The Washington Post

Big ideas planned for Loudoun Tedx conference in September

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A group of Loudoun County educators is planning a conference next month so that innovative school leaders, technology entrepreneurs and artists can share ideas.

The second annual “TEDxAshburn” conference is being organized independently by Janet Platenberg, principal at Steuart W. Weller Elementary in Ashburn, and her colleagues at the Loudoun school system’s headquarters.

The event is an offshoot of the Ted conferences, which were started in California more than two decades ago to bring together leading thinkers in different fields.

Platenberg said she attended a similar conference in New York a few years ago that made her think differently about her job as an educator. She wanted to bring that kind of gathering to Loudoun.

The first Tedx conference included short speeches by a conservation scientist at National Geographic, a charter school leader, a technology professor, a musician and a 6-year old spelling bee phenom and science enthusiast from Woodbridge named Lori Anne Madison.

In her six-minute speech, titled “Never too young to do big things,” Madison argued that children shouldn’t be told to wait if they are interested in learning something.

“I was told I was not supposed to read at 2, but I have been a book lover since then,” she said.

Early reading helped her become a spelling champion, she said. Now she is studying algebra. She’s also a competitive swimmer.

“This is the time we need to explore and ask questions and learn more about the world, so we can find out where we fit in,” she said.

Michael Alison Chandler writes about schools and families in the Washington region.

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