Recently, several educators had the opportunity to attend and present at the Blue Ribbon Schools Blueprint for Excellence Conference. This conference is one of the many opportunities that our educators have in our district to continue to grow as professionals. This conference over the years not only gives us the opportunity to network with outstanding educators from across the country, but it allows us to share our best practices from Reading with other educators. Being able to present at a national, state or regional conference has many advantages, the most notable being that our teachers and administrators are recognized for the hard work and effort that they put into the job that they do in the classroom. It validates that the best practices that we use are good for our students. The funding for this conference does not come from our operating budget, rather from a variety of other sources including PTO funds and Title 2A grant funding. Some educators who attend use their own personal funds to pay all or a portion of the expenses. The benefits of this conference to the district over the years have been tremendous and have led to several initiatives and practices which have continually improved the Reading Public Schools over the last several years.
Here are some examples of the presentations that the Reading educators offered at the conference:
- The Coolidge team of Craig Martin, Christian Huizenga, and Laura Warren gave three presentations that included topics such as classroom management and classroom relationships, school culture, and social, emotional, and academic support.
- RMHS teacher Amy Dyment presented on how to make a classroom instructional video using the SMART Board notebook software.
- The Joshua Eaton team of Marie Kiley and Sarah Sansom shared the Fundations program and daily lesson ideas with participants.
- Killam teachers Melissa Hotchkiss and Jo-Ellen McGinnity discussed how they have transformed their special education program to include more direct services with students and how they have used student data to improve student achievement.
- RMHS teacher April Goran and Superintendent John Doherty presented on how to lead and transform a school district into the use of technology and 21st Century skills.
- Parker teacher Brian Cormier provided an interactive workshop aimed at helping teachers create and catalog daily lessons using the SMART Board notebook software.
- Parker teacher Jeffrey Zilch presented a workshop with teachers on of to design video podcast projects in the classroom.
In addition to the presentations, our staff attended workshops on a variety of topics including positive behavioral techniques, glogster (web 2.0 tool), Voice Thread (web 2.0 tool), photo story (web 2.0 tool), technology integration, how brain science informs the art of teaching, developing global partnerships with schools from other countries, and using cell phones in the classroom as a learning tool. Several teachers and administrators attended institutes on Leadership Excellence and Inspiring Creativity. Dr. David Walsh, one of the world’s leading authorities on children, teens, parenting, family life, and the impact of technology on children’s health and development, presented on how using new discoveries from brain science can help educators and parents prepare children and youth to be more successful in school and in life.
In addition, the Birch Meadow Elementary School was recognized as a Blue Ribbon Lighthouse Point of Light School for their efforts in using the Blue Ribbon School Improvement Process to improve their school. Congratulations to the Birch Meadow School Community for this recognition.
But the experience does not end there. The ideas, thoughts, innovations, and reflections that were developed and learned at the conference will now be shared with our schools. It is here that the true learning begins where our educators that have seen and heard how these best practices work in other schools across the country work with our teachers to foster these ideas in our schools. When these ideas and initiatives come to fruition in schools and classrooms in our district, that is when the excitement begins. It is a formula that we have used in our district for several years and it has allowed us to continually look at what we do and how we can do it better.
Special thanks goes to the School PTOs for helping to support this professional development opportunity for our teachers.
- DON’T MISS IMPROVOSAURUS!-Don’t miss IMPROVOSAURUS, the resident Improv troupe of the RMHS Drama Club this Friday night at 7PM at the Reading Memorial High School Fine and Performing Arts Center. This talented group of performers will have you laughing your heads off. Admission is the bargain of the season at only $3 per person. Come and Enjoy!
- Congratulations to Parker Middle School students under the direction of Art teachers Amy Ropple and Diane Davis for the work that they have done on their Artsonia website. Parker is now ranked #1 on Artsonia for middle schools in the state of Massachusetts, and is 3rd in the country. The ranking is based on the amount of work posted and the use of the site by students and parents. Parker Middle School now has over 7,000 pieces of student art online.
- Congratulations to the RMHS Community Service Club, under the direction of RMHS teacher Frank Buono who recently held a very successful concert/coffee house fundraiser which raised an astonishing $550 for Veterans Village. Veterans Village is a non-profit organization, featured on 60 Minutes, which provides services to US Military veterans such as mental health counseling, drug rehabilitation, job training, and educational opportunities.
- Congratulations to the RMHS Red Cross Club, under the direction of RMHS teacher Frank Buono, who ran a very successful blood drive in the Field House last Friday.
- A special thanks to the following school groups who donated a tree to the Reading Technology Education Foundation Festival of Trees: Barrows PTO, Birch Meadow PTO, Class of 2011, Class of 2012, Class of 2013, Coolidge Peer Leaders, Joshua Eaton, Joshua Eaton Student Council, Killam Elementary School, Parker Peer Leaders, PSST, Reading School Committee, RMHS Administration, RMHS Art Club, RMHS BPO, RMHS PTO, and the Wood End Elementary School. Because of their efforts and the efforts of the Reading Technology Education Foundation, over $12,000 was raised at the Festival of Trees.
- There will be a Reading School Committee meeting on Monday, December 13, beginning at 7:30 p.m. at the Wood End Elementary School. School Committee Office hours will be held from 6:00-7:00 p.m. at Wood End. You can access the agenda here.