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Monday, July 15, 2019

Inspired, Invigorated

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Bossier Teachers Get “Schooled” Over the Summer

While children are enjoying their last few weeks of summer fun, Bossier Parish teachers are getting “schooled” in eager anticipation of the 2019- 20 academic year that will soon begin, and they are crisscrossing the country doing it.

 

Educators share a love for learning and the desire to instill that same passion in children. Yet after an exhausting nine-month sprint that extends from August to May, they sometimes need their own tank filled so they can return to the classroom reenergized and ready to run again at full speed.

It was New Orleans or bust for dozens of Bossier teachers, who joined roughly 6,500 educators from across the state for the 2019 Teacher Leader Summit. For three jam-packed days, they were immersed in high-level learning and motivated by those foremost in their field.

A highlight for Legacy Elementary teacher Jennifer Hartley was attending an Ed Talk with literacy expert Tim Shanahan, as well as workshops on implementing Louisiana Guidebooks to their fullest potential.

“Another session introduced me to lots of great web platforms to utilize for student engagement. I’m looking forward to getting back into the classroom with this wealth of new knowledge!” Hartley exclaimed.

It was all in the name of science for Tosha Neill and Shelly Bihm, who attended a session delving into state assessments.

“We will share what we learned with district leaders as well as administrators and teachers at our respective school sites,” the teaching duo said. “We will personally use what we learned to develop much-needed high-quality LEAP aligned science assessments to prepare students for LEAP 2025.”

Stockwell Place Elementary librarian Kim Howell attended both as a learner and presenter, delivering the message that “libraries are the heart of every school and a place for collaboration with all teachers and curriculum. I shared ways to ensure your administration supports the Library Program, how to incorporate the newly updated National Library standards and collaborative curriculum best practices.”

Dallas was the destination for the Get Your Teach On (GYTO) National Conference, which felt like a concert and educators were the rock stars.

“We are having a blast and getting fired up to become the ripple effect in the lives of our students!” said Vanessa Powers from Plantation Park Elementary.

“Learning should be fun!” added W.T. Lewis Elementary Principal Lisa Burns. “We want school to be a place where kids want to go, not where they have to go. We want to teach in a way that helps our students make meaningful connections and deepens their understanding of the concepts we’re teaching. What we learned at the national GYTO conference has the potential to improve teaching and learning in powerful ways and make a difference in the lives of our kids.”

Robert Gallant also returned pumped after working with the National Security Agency at the National CyberEducation Forum in Denver. His focus was preparing Greenacres Middle School STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math) students to fill cyber jobs – some that are not even created yet.

“I look forward to returning to my STEAM classroom and completely changing how I teach it!” Gallant explained. “I also look forward to sharing the strategies and opportunities with the other STEAM teachers within my district so they can prepare all of the students in Bossier Parish for the future – what we can see and what we can’t see! And to add on to that, I was awarded 10 free Boe-Bot Robots for my classroom!” And Bossier High teacher Angie Stephenson left the MindSpark Learning Institute inspired after attending the workshop “Building Resilient Classrooms with Social Emotional Awareness.”

“It introduced Social Emotional Learning (SEL) tools to keep students calm and promote appropriate responses from me and from my students in different situations,” Stephenson explained. “It gave many ideas on how to seamlessly merge those practices within the already established lessons in my classroom. I am looking forward to implementing many of the ideas I learned into this upcoming year!” That is not all keeping Bossier teachers busy. Others spent time acquiring certifications and building their leadership skills.

Haughton Elementary’s Rosemary Grimm, the 2018 Louisiana Elementary Teacher of the Year, successfully completed the Louisiana Department of Education Content Leader Certification Program, the culmination of a year-long process.

“One of the ways Bossier Schools is meeting the need for ongoing professional development is through the use of content leaders at schools and throughout the district,” expounded Curriculum Coordinator Kay Canal. “Through this state training, content leaders have developed the skills and knowledge to coach and support other teachers through their content knowledge and pedagogy. This, in turn, has a positive effect on teachers and instruction, which leads to more student success.”

And as one of only 10 women in the nation chosen for the “Connect, Collaborate, Lead” conference in San Antonio, Princeton Elementary Assistant Principal Jamie East came home with much more than what she packed in her suitcase.

“Having some of the top female educators in the country pour wisdom into me for three days was a transformative experience,” East said. “I will be able to return to Princeton empowered to lead and champion change in my school community. The sessions helped me solidify my leadership voice and become a more effective decision maker.”

Indeed, it has been a busy summer for Bossier educators learning so they can lead, engage and inspire in the new school year – all for the benefit of those that matter most. Our children.

Sonja Bailes, Bossier Schools Public Relations Liaison.

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