SOUTH PLAINFIELD: While students were enjoying their summer, the faculty at Holy Savior Academy returned to the classroom -- this time as pupils -- to advance their instructional skills.

They learned how to use mobile technology as a teaching tool, be more creative in the classroom, and implement the Common Core Standards.

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Three teachers – Jennifer Durkin, Daniele Micale, and Jessica Presuto – attended a one-day technology seminar at Rutgers University in August. They chose three sessions from a dozen available on such topics as becoming a digital educator, developing apps, going paperless, or going on virtual field trips. 

“Technology is constantly changing so as teachers we need to keep up with those changes,” said Presuto, who teaches language arts to seventh- and eighth-graders at Holy Savior. “Continuing education for teachers is the best way to improve the educational experiences for our students.” 

Durkin, who teaches science to sixth- through eighth-graders, added students tend to be more engaged in lessons and turn in better homework when they are using the computer or a mobile device. 

The trio then shared their findings with the faculty at Holy Savior Academy when school opened.

Also in August, second-grade teacher Cindi Sammons attended two workshops in New York at Scholastic: “Creativity for the Common Core Classroom” and “The Foundations of Reading Success.” She also participated in two online courses with Scholastic over the summer: “Creating a Caring Classroom” and “Six Trait Writing for the Common Core.”

She was using those tools to work as soon as she returned to Holy Savior in September. On a recent morning, Sammons asked her students to select the class mascot from four animals that they children nominated: fish, hamster, bunny or turtle.

The students were assigned to write a graph to argue their reasons for wanting a particular animal. And winner was the bunny. The students argued that a bunny is cute and fluffy, are good hoppers and are fun to groom. Sammons will bring a stuffed toy bunny to classroom and the students can take turns taking home for the weekend.

Other Holy Savior staff members who attended continuing education courses are: 

Daniel Mahoney went to the National Association of Pastoral Musicians annual convention in Washington D.C.;

Lauren Silva participated in “Implementing CCCS into the Elementary Classroom Using the Smart Board” at Kean University.

Additionally, the entire faculty and Principal Melinda Hanlon attended a workshop “Common Core Standards” With Dr. Paul Beaudin.

The school provides ongoing educational opportunities for the faculty because the administration and the Board of Limited Jurisdiction want to ensure Holy Savior Academy students continue to receive a high-standard education.

“Our goal is to encourage lifelong learning for both our teachers and our students,” said Principal Hanlon.  

The school, located at 149 South Plainfield Ave. in South Plainfield, accepts students of all faiths in pre-kindergarten through eighth-grade.