Time for a Change of Season
By Monica Van Aken, Ed. D, Head of School
At the heart of an independent school is a “community of learners” who demonstrate a love of life-long learning. As members of this community, the Milwaukee Montessori School faculty remain actively engaged in self-renewal all year long through educational and financial resources committed by the school for professional development. Independent schools are advised to appropriate 1.5% of their operating budgets each year to professional development. At MMS we work hard to do that by allocating money in our operating budget, earmarking donations from our Annual Fund, and securing grants solely for continued staff development.
The benefits of this commitment to faculty learning cannot be underscored. Researchers have found powerful relationships between a professional, growth-focused faculty culture and student performance, satisfaction, and enthusiasm. In fact, studies have shown that professional development may be the single most important determinant of faculty health and the best predictor of student success. Professional development at MMS builds a mission-based and student-focused community founded on principle and directed toward making a difference in the lives of students.
Even during the summer months, our culture of self-improvement can be seen through the significant time spent by teachers and faculty learning cutting-edge processes that ultimately translate into classroom results. This past summer, Sarah Pearce and Sherri Dodd attended the renowned Tablet Institute at Cincinnati Country Day School to learn the latest developments in tablet instruction. Jon Mohr attended the Midwest Volleyball Instructor’s Elite Camp at St. Olaf College in Minnesota for a week to learn coaching techniques from Olympic-level coaches and athletes. Marcy Berenschot and Ron Grennier each spent two weeks in New York City attending Columbia University’s Reading and Writing Institute. Jaime Cieszynski spent a week in Pennsylvania, at Carnegie Mellon University’s Robotics Institute, learning to write programs for the newest line of student robots and Mary Cullen spent five weeks in Mexico immersing herself in academic classes.
These professional development experiences allow faculty to develop new and innovate ways of teaching and engaging students. As a result, teachers are able to bring the skills and knowledge they gain from this devoted learning time back to our students. It is because of their commitment that we are able to expand the MMS learning community to even greater heights.