WJCT Public Media Presents 2023 TEACH Conference, Featuring Keynote Speakers Ralph Smith and Sonia Manzano

Media Contact:
Neily Braren, Promotion & Marketing Associate
904.318.2633 • nbraren@wjct.org

Tickets available now for day-long conference that engages, empowers and inspires educators 

January 24, 2022 — Jacksonville, Fla. — WJCT Public Media, in partnership with VyStar Credit Union, will present its 8th annual TEACH Conference on Saturday, February 25, 2023. This day-long conference for voluntary prekindergarten (VPK) through 5th grade educators will be held at the Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront.

TEACH will feature two national keynote speakers, as well as 21 concurrent educational breakout sessions throughout the day. Ralph Smith, managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, will deliver the morning keynote address. Since 2010, Smith has forged national consensus around the goal of ensuring children reach the critical developmental milestone of reading on grade level by the end of third grade.

The afternoon keynote speaker, Sonia Manzano, is a media leader recognized as one of the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine. She broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television as “Maria” on the beloved PBS program Sesame Street, and has since focused her career on enriching diversity on television, the stage and in the classroom. She is the creator and executive producer of PBS KIDS’ newest program, Alma’s Way, which airs weekly on JAX PBS KIDS.

TEACH tickets cost $45 per person, and can be purchased at wjct.org/teach. The conference includes a continental breakfast, an elegant seated lunch and a professional gift bag with educational materials and gifts from local sponsors. Attendees will have the opportunity to win door prizes at the conference to benefit their classrooms and curriculum.

This year’s honorary chair is Veronica Session-Fennell, the community liaison for VyStar Credit Union. The Jacksonville native works to make the community better by living out VyStar Credit Union’s purpose to Do Good. Recently, in her spare time, Veronica authored a new children’s book collection, the Bria Book Collection, that teaches kids of all ages how they can make change through philanthropy and manifest their dreams .

“Educators impact our community every day, shaping the future of the next generation,” said David McGowan, President and CEO of WJCT Public Media. “This event honors their contributions and provides a forum to further their professional development and network with colleagues outside of the classroom setting. Education is a group effort, and we’re proud to pave the way for progress in our community by bringing educators together to advance their skills.”

“Our credit union has a deep appreciation for the important role educators have in empowering students and building stronger communities,” said VyStar President/CEO Brian Wolfburg. “We’re proud to support a variety of initiatives, organizations and community partners that connect them to the resources they need to help their students be successful.” 

Additional support provided in part by the Jacksonville Jaguars Foundation. For more information, contact Circe LeNoble, WJCT’s Grants & Education Outreach Manager at clenoble@wjct.org or 904-358-6329.

 Tickets are available for purchase at wjct.org/teach.


About WJCT Public Media

WJCT is the community-owned and operated public media organization serving Jacksonville and the First Coast since 1958, using television, radio, digital media, and live events to help community members learn, share, and grow. For more information on WJCT’s in-depth programming content, log on to WJCT Online at wjct.org. Like WJCT on Facebook (facebook.com/wjctjax) and follow WJCT on Twitter (@WJCTJax) and Instagram (@WJCTJax).

 About VyStar Credit Union:

VyStar Credit Union is the second-largest credit union headquartered in Florida and now serves over 860,000 members with assets of over $13 billion. VyStar is the largest mortgage lender in Northeast Florida and a major employer in the region with over 2,000 employees. VyStar membership is open to everyone who lives or works in the 49 contiguous counties of Central to North Florida, 26 Georgia counties, and past and present military members and their families all over the world. For more information, visit vystarcu.org, and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.

About Ralph Smith:

Ralph Smith calls himself a “recovering law professor,” but he acknowledges that his background as a corporate and securities lawyer helped him to appreciate the role of markets and the private sector and the value of cross-sector collaboration. Smith made his early mark in academia by teaching corporations and securities regulation at the University of Pennsylvania, but it was his years serving the Philadelphia School District as chief of staff and special counsel that helped him understand “the interplay between what was going on in schools and classrooms and what was going on in the lives of the children at home and in their communities,” he says. “Both were major contributors to the success or lack of success of young people.”

About Sonia Manzano:

Named among the “25 Greatest Latino Role Models Ever” by Latina Magazine, Sonia Manzano broke ground as one of the first Hispanic characters on national television. Throughout her career, she has continued to contribute to enriching diversity on television, on the stage, and in the educational realm, most recently as the creator and executive producer of PBS KIDS newest program, Alma’s Way.