Sherman Central School board members learned at their recent regular meeting that professional development of the district's staff is a top priority for the 2016-2017 school year.
District principal Bryna Booth and curriculum coordinator Jamie Berg explained that professional development will be designed for specific teachers and needs. This will encourage faculty members to continue learning and apply what they have learned, they said.
"Even when there is a good professional development opportunity, it doesn't help to send the wrong people," Berg said. "Teachers are not going to come back and use the knowledge that they learned if they are not comfortable with it."
Photo by David Prenatt
Sherman superintendent Michael Ginestre holds up two certificates the district received from Better Outcomes LLC for “beating the odds” in helping economically disadvantaged students succeed.
Booth said the district is taking an approach to professional development that will allow teachers a choice in their professional development. "We are trying to consider the needs of each teacher as a way to revamp learning," she said.
Booth outlined four ways that she plans to extend professional development opportunities, which include KYTE learning, twitter, high quality conferences, and in-house professional development.
According to kytelearning.com, Kyte Learning is an online library of educational technology training videos for teachers and administrators. Booth noted that Kyte reached out and asked Sherman to do a case study.
Sherman superintendent Michael Ginestre voiced his support of the program as well. "The simplicity of Kyte is one of the reasons it's been so effective and taken off so quickly," he said. "I've had many teachers tell me that they are doing this at home. There is so much information and things to learn it's grand."
Regarding Twitter, Booth said "I started pushing it for several reasons. For one, we're showing off the great things we're doing here." Twenty-nine teachers are regularly tweeting; teachers are connecting with other teachers, she said.
Berg outlined the types of high quality conferences that are being attended by faculty members. The National Conference of Teachers of Mathematics, the Future of Education Technology Conference, STEM conferences, and ASCD (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development) conferences are an important part of our professional development, Berg said.
Berg and Booth said the ASU-GSV (Arizona State University-Global Silicon Valley) Summit in Salt Lake City, UT is a possibility. "If we go to ASU-GSV, we can stay an extra day and visit Kyte Headquarters in Salt Lake City," Booth added.
Berg told the board that In-house professional development includes data days, test prep days, using BOCES experts to hone in on specific needs, superintendent conference days, and curriculum days.
Curriculum days will focus on new placements for teachers who are moving their assignments for next year, Booth added. Booth and Ginestre reminded board members that Sherman Central School has been approved as a CTLE provider by New York State. Therefore, teachers can receive valid professional development hours from the training they receive in the district, they said.
In another matter, Superintendent Ginestre told board members that new goals have been set for sports and the athletic steering committee. "A new athletic director is about to come on board," he said, and it's time to get the steering committee going again.
"We hope to develop a mission and vision for our athletic program," Ginestre said. "We want to increase school spirit, increase participation in sports, and make it a point of pride to wear a Sherman uniform."
Ginestre told the board that some of the things to be addressed include defining what it means to be a Sherman athlete, having students understand "winning the right way," and making sure "branding" is consistent by having all gear and uniforms approved. "It's important to have a board member on the steering committee," he said.
Ginestre also announced that that Sherman Elementary School and Sherman High School have been recognized by Better Outcomes LLC, an educational research and consulting firm in Hartsdale, NY. The firm is dedicated to helping improve educational experiences, particularly for economically disadvantaged students.
Ginestre showed the board two certificates, one for the elementary school and one for the high school which commended Sherman for "boosting the achievement of economically disadvantaged students. The leadership and staff at this school are beating the odds and building opportunities."
The board also reviewed preliminary budget figures for the coming school years. Sherman business manager Kim Oehlbeck said the final figures will be available at the April meeting.