Bringing New Skills to the Classroom – CCS Faculty Professional Development

The CCS faculty stayed quite busy this summer, with professional development trips to High Tech High in San Diego, California, Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and to the American Wilderness Leadership School in Jackson, Wyoming – just to name a few! These experiences allowed the participating faculty members to work with inspirational instructors around the country, with particular focus on new and forward-thinking strategies regarding learning. Specifically, our faculty learned how to implement new technology into the classroom, new conservation techniques for our campus, and tools to improve the Diversity and Inclusion Department at CCS. Hacker Burr (Head of School), Letitia Sowers (Dean of Student Life & Director of Diversity) and Campbell Bowers (Lower School Outdoor Education), returned to CCS newly energized with the valuable knowledge they gained over the course of their experiences, which they share with us below:

“Our staff is extremely lucky to have the opportunity to participate in some of the highest quality professional development in the world.  High Tech High and Phillips Exeter are two schools that are on the cutting edge of education in the 21st Century. These institutions have been leading the way for years, and we feel it is important for our teachers to travel out of our immediate area and mingle with the best of the best. We are honored that the Stranahan Foundation and other generous donors see value in these experiences as well, and are willing to invest in our commitment to truly provide a 21st Century Education for our students.  This is an investment that carries exponential return, and the net result for our students is that they receive an educational experience to prepare them for the innovation economy that awaits them – which is far different than the industrial economy that previous generations of students experienced. It was exciting to see our teachers gain such valuable information from their experiences at these innovative schools over the summer!”

-Hacker Burr, Head of School

“Attending the Diversity Institute at Phillips Exeter Academy in June was an eye-opener for me in so many ways! This incredible opportunity not only benefited me in my professional life, but in my personal life as well. I spent the week with two profound instructors, Alex Myers and John Daves, along with educators from around the world, discussing various topics about race and gender using the Harkness Method.

A few standout themes from my experience include:

-that in order to implement a successful Diversity and Inclusion Department at CCS, there must be an institutional buy-in. This includes board members, employees, students, parents, and all other constituents.

-that schools should create a safe environment where students don’t feel like they are only admitted – but they are also accepted at the school!

-that many of us automatically think of race when we hear of diversity and inclusion. However, this concept also includes language, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, nationality, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, geography, physical abilities, age, personality, learning styles, and life experiences.

-that the terms and topics that framed our week at Exeter were: Cisgender, White Fragility, Meritocracy, the Gender Bread Person, and Racial Literacy.

I look forward to continuing the discussion about diversity and inclusion at CCS, as well as helping to guide CCS on becoming a proactive institution rather than a reactive one when faced with challenges that make our CCS students and employees different from one another!”

“It is not our differences that divide us. It is our inability to recognize, accept, and celebrate those differences.” -Audre Lorde

-Letitia Sowers, Dean of Student Life & Director of Diversity

Each summer, the Safari Club International organization invites educators from around the country to participate in their American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS). During the weeklong program, AWLS educates teachers on the importance of conservation and ecology, as well as firearm safety skills and archery certification. From dawn until dusk, educators participate in classroom lectures, ecology walks, and archery/firearm training, along with opportunities to reflect with colleagues on the information and skills learned. The goal of this program is for participants to bring their newfound knowledge back to their schools and programs to implement in the upcoming year.

“I had an amazing experience at AWLS! The instructors were friendly, engaging, patient, and helpful. Each instructor came from a different outdoor background, which provided an all-encompassing learning experience. We were generously given dozens of resources to help implement activities in our classrooms, and I enjoyed meeting educators from all over the country who teach everything from preschool all the way up through the college level. We continually discussed ideas for our own classes while working together in survival situations, archery certification, and various games. I also learned how to safely shoot a firearm and became NASP certified in order to help coach our archery team at CCS. These bonding experiences helped me to develop a better format for my classes that I am looking forward to implementing. I hope to be both a teacher and facilitator as I continue to provide hands-on learning opportunities – as these are the experiences from which our students benefit the most!

The main lesson I learned throughout the week was the importance of building relationships with people in both the school and our local communities. Meeting educators with different backgrounds and learning about their teaching styles and experiences was extremely valuable. As an outdoor educator, I hope to put myself and CCS into the outdoor community more often to build as many relationships and learning opportunities for our students as possible. This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that I will never forget. Thank you Safari Club!”

-Campbell Bowers, Lower School Outdoor Education

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