SPARTA, NJ – Dr. Melissa Varley, Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Staff Development has announced plans for Sparta Township Public Schools to open a Professional Development Academy for teachers in 2014-2015. While the main focus is to work with the district’s own teachers, Sparta will also be offering educational based courses for educators who are not employed in the Sparta School District at a minimal cost. These courses will offer the latest in best practices and pedagogy and have been designed to host interactive, dynamic PD that ensures maximum knowledge retention.
Professional development is a practice that schools and districts use to guarantee that educators continue to strengthen their skills throughout their career. According to Mizell 2010, “Teams of teachers who work together in a professional development course that focuses on the needs of their students is the most effective.”
Varley said, “Due to the expense, many districts do not have the capability to ensure their teachers are up to speed on the latest teaching strategies and best practices. By offering an in-house teaching academy, we can offset some of the cost by hiring our own subject matter experts to offer new skills and strategies to educators inside and outside the district.”
This year, the Sparta academy will be offering Multisensory Reading Strategies which will be instructed by the Orton Gillingham Institute. Included in this training will be:
- Phonemic awareness instruction,
- Vocabulary instruction within the Common Core,
- The art of assessments,
- The Harkness method-which is related to the Socratic Method and
- Many brain based courses.
- There will be mathematics, social studies, and science pedagogy related courses as well.
Sparta, along with all districts in the state, will be faced with converting to the new mandated science curriculum, called the Next Generation Science Standards. To prepare for the transition, much of this year’s professional development course work will be focused on Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, knows as STEM.
Mizell, H. (2010) Why professional development matters. Learning Forward.