Professional Development of the Faculty & Staff

The Nelson Elementary School staff participates in professional development opportunities which impact school improvement issues on a school-wide level. This allows us to use our financial resources wisely and provides us with a shared professional vision that fosters school-wide collaboration and support. We are proud of our commitment to include hourly teaching staff in these initiatives to ensure they have the necessary tools to guide student instruction. We also strive to share monetary resources and training experiences with neighboring schools as applicable.

We were one of the first practicing Responsive Classroom Schools in SAU 29 and are now in our fifteenth year with this model. All full-time staff have attended week-long institutes, as well as the annual National School Conference, in a continuing effort to build upon our existing strengths. When hiring new staff, candidates must possess a strong background in social curriculum and a strong belief in the philosophy of Responsive Classroom as it is the backbone of our work with children.

When problem solving and an emphasis on process moved to the forefront of mathematical instruction, we chose to adopt the Everyday Mathematics curriculum because of its national recognition for being strong in these areas. We credit the use of this program for our consistently high math scores on state testing year after year. We remain committed to this program and provide on-going professional development in this area.

We trained for two years with Dr. Carol Tolman, a nationally recognized literacy specialist, to provide our teaching staff with a strong background in the building blocks of language acquisition, and to help further strengthen our students' reading and spelling skills.

Technology training for our staff is currently focused on work with the Promethean Boards. All teachers have attended trainings and are using this tool in their daily instruction. Our most knowledgeable staff have presented at other schools and are serving as "in-house consultants" for our beginners.

We are now in the secondary stages of focusing upon improving student writing. Even though our students perform well in open-ended writing questions, we still consider it to be our relative weakness. As a result, the teaching staff has attended numerous workshops on 6 Traits Writing Program and a local consultant has been contracted to help us deepen our understanding of this approach.

Although we are not a school who has bullying issues in the traditional sense of the word, our recent professional development opportunities in this area have allowed us to identify what might be considered precursors to bullying. Our newly developed school leadership team (composed of fifth and sixth graders) have educated our student and parent community about the various aspects of bullying behavior.

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