Faculty at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS
Model Lifelong Learning for Students
Annual faculty in-service at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS is a week-long tradition devoted to professional development, the "Olympic mentality," and student success.
Aug. 29, 2012 (TAMPA, Fla.) – The final week of summer vacation is precious time. For families, it's an opportunity to squeeze in a final trip to the beach or to savor one more lazy afternoon by the pool before the busyness of the school year becomes frenzied reality.
For faculty at Corbett Preparatory School of IDS, those final days before the start of the new school year are also precious. It's valuable time they devote every year to lifelong learning and to what teachers call the "Olympic mentality" – the best continuing to get better.
When they gather together in the Farish Center for their annual in-service during pre-planning week, Corbett Prep teachers share knowledge and ideas gained during summer conferences, workshops, and reading. They learn new strategies from master teacher-trainer and Corbett Prep Headmaster Dr. Joyce Burick Swarzman. They plan how to integrate those new ideas into curriculum maps, International Baccalaureate (IB) Programs of Inquiry, and classroom lessons throughout the year ahead.
And by doing so, they become re-energized, re-invigorated, and re-inspired about the new year ahead.
"Refreshing and rejuvenating," is how new faculty member Cindy Strickland described her first in-service at Corbett Prep. A 25-year veteran teacher who also has served as a private school headmaster, Mrs. Strickland joined Corbett Prep this year as middle school assistant director and sixth-grade writing and math teacher.
"New information is released daily on how to best educate children. Therefore, teacher training is absolutely necessary for student success, and there are more opportunities for teacher training at Corbett Prep than any other place I have ever taught," said Mrs. Strickland.
"During the in-service, I was in awe of the professionalism, the positive attitudes, the helpfulness to the new teachers, and the organization of the meetings," said Mrs. Strickland. She cited the "Fish Bowl" as just one activity she found valuable. A creative way to share ideas and information, the fish bowl process placed teachers who had attended IB training during the summer in a circle, discussing their experiences and perspectives, with other faculty around them focused and asking questions.
"The amount of training and intellectual stimulation I received during the in-service was incredible," said new fifth-grade teacher Kris Geissler. A teacher for 19 years, Ms. Geissler said in-service discussion about gifted learners, particularly about guiding students to discover their individual gifts, gave her valuable insight.
"As teachers, we need to model lifelong learning for our students, and I'm excited about the opportunities for in-service and professional growth that are available throughout the year at Corbett Prep," said Ms. Geissler.
According to Associate Headmaster Pam Ripple, Corbett Prep teachers have always adhered to the "Olympic mentality." "Just as the best athletes in the world continue to exercise and strengthen their abilities in the quest for gold, Corbett Prep teachers continue to train and learn new research-based teaching techniques," she said.
That's why Dr. Swarzman conducts weekly in-service sessions. As former director for the University of South Florida's SunCoast Area Teacher Training (SCATT) Program, Dr. Swarzman has trained more than 15,000 teachers and education students. These on-going, weekly in-services enable teachers to share information and resources that keep their classrooms on the cutting edge of education.
"It's a big task to create a brain-friendly environment," said Dr. Swarzman. "Teachers need the knowledge, skills, and attitudes to be able to link right and left-brain thinking and to create the dynamic lessons that help students find joy in learning."
To do that on a continuous basis takes an investment in teacher training. It also requires extraordinary teachers, who are passionate about student success.
"Our teachers live the way they teach," said Dr. Swarzman. "They are inspiring models of lifelong learning for our students."