“Writing isn’t just what you put on your paper; you have to live your story,” he told a crowd of several dozen teachers, professionals and community members.
Conners detailed his story of experiencing a cancer diagnosis to losing his sight to being near death and still rising above his struggles to become as successful and independent as he can be, living his best life. Through perseverance and determination, Conners has continued to live his own success story, as he recently graduated from college and with the support of several people was able to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.
An author himself, Conners encouraged the attendees to be true to themselves because their “story will always reach somebody.”
After his keynote, he was surprised with the annual OWI award, which was presented by his high school English teacher, Len Senecal. Another OWI award was also presented to Mary Harrell, Associate Professor, Curriculum and Instruction at SUNY Oswego.
The event, held at SUNY Oswego, has been offered in partnership with the college and the Fulton City School District for the past four years. Co-directors Carri Waloven and Christine Walsh offered this year’s theme of “The Power of Writing: Exploration, Imagination, Discovery” to appeal to a variety of people interested in learning and growing in their own writing and to further help students become successful writers. Authors Javaka Steptoe and Deborah Heiligman each offered a morning keynote address during the two-day event, while attendees joined various breakout sessions, such as “Next Generation ELA Learning Standards Overview,” “Mindfulness- A Pathway Through Writer’s Block,” “Stretching Students to Set Their Own Goals,” and “Creative Writing for You and Your Students,” among several other sessions.