A Calendar Change in the SDMA: No School on April 13, 2017

A Calendar Change in the SDMA: No School on April 13, 2017
Posted on 03/02/2017

Due to the late winter storm that led to the postponement of the staff professional development day scheduled for February 24, the School District of the Menomonie Area will be making an adjustment to this year’s school calendar.  Instead of having a regular day of school with students on Thursday, April 13, 2017, that day will now be used for staff professional development. Students will not report to school on April 13, unless another school cancellation between now and then makes that day a requirement for students to make up lost instructional hours.

As with many other professions, continued training and professional development (PD) is very important to the success of our school district. Professional development activities are not only designed for staff to communicate and collaborate across departments and grade levels on the many strategic goals being focused on in our schools, but PD is also a critical component for keeping staff members current on best practices, innovative strategies, and various educational initiatives. While much of the professional development in our school district is offered during the summer months—before and after the school year—professional development needs to be both sustained and ongoing in order to be most effective.

Staff members in the School District of the Menomonie Area have been fortunate over the past few years for having the opportunity to experience some amazing professional development activities. Two years ago, PD activities were primarily focused on differentiating instruction for all students, with well-known educational expert Rick Wormeli visiting Menomonie as the keynote speaker. The main focus of PD activities last year was centered on student engagement strategies with award winning educator and author Dave Burgess leading a year-long theme of “Teaching Like a Pirate”. 

This year, the school district hosted George Couros, whose impressive work centers around innovation in the classroom, and Dr. Clayton Cook, who is an expert on student mental health and wellness. Other important topics that have been a focus of recent SDMA professional development activities include the implementation of sound instructional pedagogy techniques, the development of curriculum and the adoption of new curriculum resource, the analysis of student achievement data, growing instructional leadership capacity, and the integration of technology into instructional practices.

On April 13, middle and high school staff will be using much of their time to update and redesign lessons in preparation for the transition to a 1:1 technology environment, and with the recent adoptions of new resources in the areas of math and literacy, the focus for elementary staff will be on collaborative planning using the new resources. Clerical staff members will be getting together to review many issues, including work for improving the school district’s website, and several paraeducators and other staff members will receive specialized non-violent crisis intervention training that is needed for successfully dealing with difficult student situations.

Should school families or community stakeholders have any questions or concerns about the the school district calendar or professional development in the school district, I invite you to visit me at the Administrative Service Center on Pine Avenue, or contact me at 715-232-1642. More information about our schools can be found on the school district website (www.sdmaonline.com), and I regularly post school-related information on Twitter (www.twitter.com/sdmaonline) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/menomonie.schools)

Thank you to SDMA Director of Curriculum and Instruction Brian Seguin for contributing to this article.