While students were busy vacationing and enjoying the summer sunshine, teachers, administrators, and support personnel in the Allegany County Public School System were diligently working to implement initiatives in support of academic programs and professional development via numerous workshops and conferences.
Beginning in June and running through the end of August, the public school system held workshops ranging from math camps to textbook reviews to benchmark curriculum development workshops. In all, approximately forty workshops were offered this summer and according to the participants, were extremely well received.
A Math Vertical Team workshop was held at the end of June at Allegany College of Maryland, and according to elementary math specialist, Tony Lancianese, “This workshop was an eye-opening experience for elementary, middle, and high school teachers, who were amazed at how much of the content they teach at the middle and high school levels is first introduced at the elementary level.” He went on to say “This workshop also created such a strong, positive climate for the teachers at all three levels. By the end, every teacher was comfortably communicating their needs and concerns without restraint. We prioritized our major needs and created goals and objectives to meet those needs.”
Elementary math specialist, Kate Lease, echoed Tony’s feelings on the Vertical Team workshop. “We saw so many connections within our vocabulary and throughout our curriculum. I am looking forward to working closer to my middle and high school counterparts during the school year.”
Another June workshop that centered on making revisions to the science portion of the Voluntary State Curriculum was a success as well. “The revisions we made during the workshop will allow us to teach by standard instead of by chapter” stated Mt. Savage teacher, Samantha Mongrain. She went on to say “We also spent some time adding supplemental material to the text by utilizing the new Safari Montage website. This website has thousands of video clips that teachers can use to enhance what we already do in our classrooms.”
According to Allegany County Teacher of the Year, Deborah Pappas, and Annie Trenum, third grade teacher at Frost Elementary School, the Consortium on Reading Excellence (CORE) workshop held this summer was a tremendous learning experience as well. This workshop focused on best practices for teaching reading and the consultant leading the group emphasized that reading instruction should be direct, explicit, and systematic. Trenum stated that she felt that this workshop afforded her the opportunity to enhance the delivery of her reading instruction and she is looking forward to testing the techniques she learned in her classroom. Pappas went on to say “The reading strategies that the consultant modeled were very practical for whole group reading instruction as well as small group or individual instruction.”
Fort Hill High School English teacher, Mary Jane O’Rourke, felt that the workshop on the grammar and writing text selection was a wonderful opportunity for the county to see exactly what the latest trends in educational materials are. “The students of Allegany County are the beneficiaries of this workshop where their teachers worked hard to ensure the selections of a user-friendly text to enhance their understanding of the writing process and the importance of grammar to their writing success.”
Braddock Middle School science teacher, Becky Byzon, found the Biotech workshop to be very helpful. “I now have some very interesting activities to use with students and I feel confident in my abilities to prepare for and run laboratory experiences such as gel electrophoresis, protein crystallization, and DNA extraction. I would recommend this workshop to any science teacher.”
Additionally, at the Make-Take workshop that Cash Valley’s administrative assistant, Bonnie DeLawder, attended, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teachers had the opportunity to share various ideas for centers and classroom ideas, and at the curriculum workshop that Braddock Middle School teacher, Stephanie Maddy, attended, the group was able to spend some time preparing for the upcoming school year by aligning the curriculum with the assessments which would afford teachers the opportunity to use data-driven analysis to determine the extent of learning and the need for follow-up re-teaching. Both DeLawder and Maddy felt that their workshops were time well spent.
“Ongoing, meaningful professional development is crucial to enable our teachers and administrators the ability to remain on the cutting-edge of educational practices and theory” states school board president, Jeff Metz. “Additionally, we appreciate the active involvement our teachers have taken in these initiatives.”