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Stephanie Raper
In the Loop Editor

Teacher Workshops

           Many people assume that teachers have an easy job – you know – they get summers off, and all those holidays during the year, right?  Well, that’s just not the case.  Every five years, teachers must renew their teaching license by attending classes or workshops to earn college credits or CEU’s (Continuing Education Units).  Most of these credits are earned during the summer, on weekends, or school holidays.  Teachers also are constantly striving to improve their teaching skills and to keep up with the continually evolving and changing educational system in our country.  Just when you think you have the system figured out, it changes again!  It is a constant learning cycle. 

Many Grenada School District personnel spent this past summer attending workshops or meeting with their coworkers to design new teaching strategies for the upcoming year.

           Denise Roberts, Grenada Elementary School teacher, reported that third grade teachers worked diligently during the summer preparing for the new Common Core curriculum implementation.  In May the teachers began by meeting for three days with the GSD Language Arts and Math Specialists for training on the new Core standards.  They were then divided into two groups to work through the month of June to complete their assigned parts of the educational teaching units.  During this time, the teachers met informally with the specialists to pose questions about the elements they were designing.  The specialists reviewed the progressing units and made suggestions for changes or additions. 

            In August the teachers had an additional day of training, and then were divided into Math and Language Arts planning teams to begin writing the second nine-weeks’ Language Arts unit and the next Math units.  Each day during their planning periods, these teachers meet to correct and resubmit unit plans to their departmental specialist.   All third grade teachers began implementation of these newly developed units on August 19.

            Marie Lane, a special education resource teacher for fourth and fifth grade at GUES, participated in a Math workshop entitled DEEP Learning Communities held at the University of Mississippi Center for Mathematics and Science Education.  This workshop lasted two full weeks.  Lane earned six CEU’s for the session and will attend follow-up sessions next summer worth three more CEU’s. 

            Three Grenada High School teachers, Laura Barfield, Dominique Miller, and Leah Watson, attended a three-week Project MAST (Mississippi Academy for Science Teaching) course at Jackson State University.  This project imparts new strategies and activities for Mississippi teachers to take back to the classroom.  Instructors included Lionel Crews, an astronomer from University of Tennessee; Wayne Snyder from Caltech; and Dr. Lyon Hogue, Co-Director of Terrific Science.  All the instructors incorporated the new Common Core Curriculum standards into the activities.  The participants were pre- and post-tested, taught to take notes, to be comfortable with cooperative learning, and how to interpret Common Core science objectives.  The teachers not only learned to use and incorporate new equipment into their teaching; they were given equipment to take back to their individual classrooms.

            Melanie Hopper and Ron Hammond, GHS teachers, also attended a week long workshop through Ole Miss to become certified in Advanced Placement English Literature and Composition.  About 25 other teachers from Mississippi and Alabama attended this conference conducted by a National Advanced Placement instructor.  The group learned effective methods for teaching the AP Lit course, and for utilizing the materials for advanced placement throughout other grades and levels as schools move into Common Core. 

          Probably one of the most exclusive seminars attended this year was the Mickelson Exxon Mobile Teachers Academy.  This training took place in Jersey City.  Teachers attending this all-expense paid Math and Science workshop must complete an essay-type, online application.  Over 1200 teachers applied this year alone, and only 200 were chosen.  Grenada Upper Elementary Discovery Lab Director, Melody Shaw, was selected as one of the lucky attendees.  Shaw participated in the seminar for one full week, attending science and math workshops at the Liberty Science Center in New Jersey every day.  The attendees were also treated to speakers from the National Science Teachers’ Association, ExxonMobil Engineers, and Barbara Morgan, the first female astronaut to complete a mission to the space station.  Shaw stated that the highlight of the workshop came when Phil and Amy Mickelson, founders of the Academy, spoke to the group on the last day. 

            So, as you can see, teachers actually do not just lie on the beach all summer (although we would like to do so).  We are extremely busy people!  Teaching requires us to be life-long learners in order to keep up with today’s youth and the ever-changing field of education.  Thanks to all the teachers in the district (not just the ones listed here) who work diligently all year long to promote and further the education of our youth.