Yesterday was the 2nd annual NEOWCA conference, held at Walsh University.
First, a bit of background: last year, a group of WC directors in North East Ohio formed the NEOWCA (North East Ohio Writing Centers Association), a kind of mini-local. Last year, was their first conference.
I had a great time; the conference ran very smoothly, in Walsh's brand-new conference center. They said about 90 people registered to attend, an increase from last year. For a mini-conference, its getting pretty big!
The goal of NEOWCA is to be very tutor-focused. In keeping with that, most of the conference presenters are tutors themselves, and when directors do present, they focus on tutor-related issues, rather than tackling more administrative subjects. This approach works well, given the smaller size of the conference, and a more salient feeling of community emerges. Since we're all nearby, we know each other's schools, and many faces from last year's conference (as well as Spring's ECWCA) attended this year as well.
The lunch featured a panel discussion in lieu of a keynote. Their subject was how the WC helped them get a job later on. We heard from five speakers, now applying their WC skills in a high school, as campus minister, graduate student, PhD student, and missionary.
Presentations touched on a wide range of subjects, from creative writing tutoring to having a mentally disabled tutor on staff. A large number of tutors attended each session, and as usual, the conversations that were sparked during Q & A were the highlight.
On a personal note, I really think the idea of a mini-local is a good one. Two subjects that were brought up numerous times were WCs ability to create community, and to allow for productive networking. These are two things that conferences like NEOWCA are all about, and keeping it local makes these two points much more noticeable.