For the seventh consecutive year, the HAPPY Hour Student Showcase is returning to the University of Central Florida on Saturday, Jan. 28. The in-house professional-development conference, hosted by the UCF College of Education and Teaching Academy, will run from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

In past years, the conference has drawn more than 400 education students who have the chance to network with peers, teachers and student organizations.

Attendees will hear from keynote speaker Cheryl Conley, the 2011 Florida Teacher of the Year, and more than 100 students will lead 55 different presentations that cover innovative strategies in teaching. Popular topics for presentations include literacy, social studies and technology in the classroom.

“Presenting at the HAPPY Hour Showcase is a very unique experience for the student presenters,” said Dr. Karen Verkler, HAPPY Hour chair. “This experience will set them apart in the job market from the normal candidate because most current teachers have never had the chance to speak at a conference.”

Students who present at the showcase have the chance to perfect valuable presentation skills, show employers they have a desire to become a life-long learner, and learn how to write a presentation proposal. Two showcase presenters will receive scholarships at the close of the conference that allows them to attend a state conference of their choice.

“After presenting in the 2011 HAPPY Hour Showcase, it clicked that in less than  two years I was going to be a teacher and I finally saw myself for what I am, a teacher in training,” said Ashley Martin, senior Elementary Education major. “The showcase gave me confidence in myself as an educator.”

HAPPY (Having Active Participation Prepares You) Hour is a professional development initiative for students that began at UCF in 2004 has since gained recognition across the nation. The topics discussed at the workshops supplement coursework and internships.

A follow-up HAPPY Hour workshop will be held after the conference to teach student presenters how to turn their presentations into an Honors in the Major thesis, article for publication or presentation for another conference.

“Becoming involved with HAPPY Hour is what opened the doors to an exceptional educational experience” said Nicole Yello, a senior Elementary Education major. “The program instilled confidence, enabled me to grow tremendously and energized me for my career as an educator.”

The workshops, conducted by UCF faculty members and local teachers, give students insight on a range of topics that include job and interviewing tips to classroom-management techniques. The goal of the workshops is to make graduates more marketable to employers when searching for jobs.

On-site registration is available the morning of the conference in the Education Complex Lobby.

For more information contact Karen Verkler at [email protected]