So we completed our U.S. Professional Learning Communities at work season!  This particular type of conference is the bulk of our work and we are elated when the season ends successfully.  We have so much to do now to prep for 2012 events. I am excited to spend more time in Canada next year, to kick off our summer season in New Orleans and visit with Dana in Baltimore!

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You may be wondering whey we have a conference in October for educators. Yes, our attendees are primarily K-12 teachers and administrators that are in the classroom this time of year.  Well to be honest, we have so many conferences in the summertime, when teachers have off, we need to spread out a bit. Our events take place from February through November. (Stay tuned for our HUGE event next week… I’m so excited!)

For Josh and I, this actually works out well!  His work (just like mine) thrives in the summertime.  He works from early morning to sunset and maybe with a break if it rains.  Since we live in Southern Indiana and the furthest west in the Eastern time zone, the sun sets as late as 9 PM! We love it but that means Josh doesn’t get home until late. When I am traveling, we don’t miss each other quite as much because 1. we’re both so busy working 12 hour days and 2. we don’t see one another much in the summer evenings even if I am home. Our schedules compliment in the wintertime too- we get to see eachother much more as we are both in our “slow season”. Obviously, we know how to make it work!

So, I have been to Arkansas before… haven’t you? 😉  Last summer we held a conference at Bentonville High School. In case you aren’t aware, Bentonville is the home of Walmart! They have been very generous to their hometown and so the high school is just immaculate.

Bentonville, Arkansas

This trip to the city of Little Rock and home of Bill Clinton was fairly uneventful aside from a delicious dinner with the team at a small sushi restaurant.  I could have gone to the Bill Clinton Library or museum but chose to stay in the hotel and work, visit the gym and try to catch up on my life during any down time.

Our hotel was the Peabody.  There are only 3 in the country and they are concentrated in the South – Little Rock, Memphis and Orlando. Their theme is upscale luxury and care a lot about their ducks, yes DUCKS everywhere, but in a very classy way-

I was fortunate to see the duck procession and even got to chat one on one with the duck master. Guys- I’m serious about this-

The Peabody Ducks

The Peabody Ducks The twice-daily March of The Peabody Ducks has continued in unbroken sequence at 11am and 5pm since the tradition began in Memphis almost 70 years ago, at The Peabody Memphis and at The Peabody Orlando, since November 1, 1986.

Each morning, promptly at 11am, the hotel’s lobby is the scene of a remarkable ritual. The Peabody Little Rock Ducks leave their Royal Peabody Duck Palace, and arrive at a location in the lobby, where a crimson carpet has been laid out on the gleaming marble floor, leading to the marble fountain which was specially created for them. Three carpeted steps are in place.

The ducks are accompanied by their Duck Master, who is clad in scarlet-and-gold trimmed jacket, and carries a brass head duck cane.

4 of the 5 Peabody ducks in the hotel lobby fountain

But the conference went great! Renee was our coordinator and we had a strong and experienced on-site team of 9. This event had shared space between the Peabody and adjoining Convention Center. The keynote venue , the Wally Allen Ballroom was in the Convention Center which is beautiful with tall ceilings, large windows with beautiful views of the city and held 900 of our closest friends.

at 6 AM before the action began...

900 attendees from 22 states and Canadian provinces!

One thing I must say, the people of Arkansas are SO incredibly NICE. I know that people from Indiana are very warm and pleasant but Arkansas is amazing. Meeting good natured, personable, happy, and positive individuals who really care when they ask “How are you?” completely inspires me.  Even the security guards at the airport were making jokes, smiling and told me to “Have a good day now, ma’am”. Sooo sweet. It makes me wonder, how did this happen? Why is this regional?  Why aren’t we all this nice to strangers? Is it the way we grow up, are we too busy to care?  Tell me, what do you think? Anyway, I know that I am obsessing but it really makes me think about society, culture, and myself.

So, I’ll say it again- Im insprired and that is one great thing that I took out of the great state of Arkansas… and a duck soap from the hotel.

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