BAKU, Azerbaijan, November 21, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Over 600 teachers, principals and educational leaders from around the world gathered in Baku, Azerbaijan, last week for the International Conference on Changes and Innovations Supporting Education in the region, organised by the Azerbaijan Teacher Development Centre in cooperation with The European Azerbaijan Society (TEAS). With its theme "Empowering Learning", the conference came on the heels of the opening of the Azerbaijan Teacher Development Centre (ATDC), which was founded by TEAS. "We are very pleased that the opening of our centre was followed by this high-level international conference," said TEAS Chairman, Tale Heydarov. "The importance of teachers cannot be overstated. For the development of any nation, the quality of schools and the quality of teachers is most important. The better the teachers, the better the students, the better the future of the country." The two-day conference brought two leading educators to Baku: Bill Martin from the United States and Deb Masters from New Zealand. " Azerbaijan as a nation understands that the teacher is the most important part of the system," Martin said. "That if they train regular teachers to become expert teachers, they will be successful." To do that, willingness to change is key, according to Deb Masters. "If you don't like change, don't be a teacher," she said. "And if we can exhibit to kids that even the teachers are learners, we're actually modelling what we're saying is important." Azerbaijan is familiar with change. A former Soviet republic, the country is celebrating 25 years of independence this year. Yet some old habits of the Soviet education system have prevailed. "We're at times still struggling, because some teachers teach the way they did in Soviet times," said Chinara Nur, a teacher trainer at ATDC. "And that's the issue. You are not being operated today anymore by a doctor with 30-year-old knowledge. You want an up-to-date surgeon, you want new equipment. It's the same with teachers and classrooms."