Hundreds of local teachers and educators attended the 15th annual Teacher Breakfast and Education Fair on Aug. 6 in the Conway High School’s cafeteria.

The annual event, presented this year by Conway Corporation and Arkansas Surgical Hospital, was open to all teachers, principals and school board members throughout Conway School District, Conway Christian Schools and St. Joseph Catholic Schools.

"We have been a presenting sponsor for a number of years now," Conway Corp's Crystal Kemp said. "Supporting education in our community is a part of our founding as a company and has remained important to us through our 90-year history.

She said they love taking the opportunity to meet with teachers, share information with them about Conway Corp and the services they offer, while thanking the educators for the work they do. 

"The annual Teacher Fair and Breakfast is a wonderful event and we are grateful to the Conway Chamber of Commerce and all the vendors who participate," Conway School District Communication Specialist Heather Kendrick, said. "It's a fun start to the school year for our teachers and staff."

Conway School Board of Education member Bill Clements — who was an educator in the school district for around 25 years before he decided to run for the school board — expressed his excitement for the annual fair.

“I’ve been on the school board for almost 15 years,” he said. “I think it’s one of the best outreaches and support that our teachers and our employees can have.”

Clements said the fair was a great day for everyone overall.

“I’m just excited to be a part of this process,” he said. “It’s a great time for our community and our school. Not only do we connect with our community, but it’s an opportunity for us to get our transmission back in gear and start teaching again.”

The day included a complimentary breakfast from Chick-Fil-A and Klassmeyer Construction Company, Inc. and welcomed in more than 100 participating vendors including Conway Regional Health System, Hurley Chiropractic and Wellness Center, First Arkansas Bank & Trust and others.

“The community, they’re awesome,” Clements said. “Every year, I see five to 10 new businesses that are involved in our school system.”

The local board member said seeing everyone’s smiling faces, looking ready to educate students, was his favorite part of the annual fair.

Arranged in a maze around the school cafeteria, the booths were flooded with teachers, interacting with the varying vendors, enjoying the opportunities for the games and giveaways they had to offer.

One educator, Hailey Bruce-Carr, said she couldn’t get enough of what each had to offer.

“I love just getting to see all the teachers in the district," she said. "Free stuff is also cool."

This was the third year for Bruce-Carr — a sixth-grade math turned social studies teacher at Simon Middle School — to attend the annual breakfast and fair.

“I love teaching math but you know … it’s going to be different, but I think it’ll be fun,” she said. “I’m excited for a little change.”

Preston and Florence Mattison Elementary principal Gary Logan, who was mingling with his staff and other attendees during the fair, spoke with the Log Cabin Democrat about his goals for the district and his school.

“It’s really just the comradery,” he said. “Just seeing everybody in the district, say hello, and of course, we love free breakfast.”

Logan is in his second year as principal at the elementary school.

“I love it … I love what I do,” he said. “I love working for Conway.”

Previously, Logan — now known everywhere as the dancing and singing educator after being recognized for his talents by national news stations — was an assistant principal at Woodrow Cummins Elementary and before that, a teacher himself.

As for why he made the decision to take on a bigger role in the district, Logan said the, “ability to affect as a whole,” was a clear driving point for him.

“Working in the classroom, you affect 20 or so kids at a time, but in the leadership role you affect everyone.”

For the 2019-2020 school year, Logan said he was eager to see what the students and teachers will do for the future.

“I am looking forward to the academic, social and emotional gains that we will make in my building,” he said. “I’m ready to see my kids grow.”

Story by Hilary Andrews and Isabella Barnello.