Just as our boys anxiously await the joyful days of summer and bound out the doors with cheers and hollers, our lower school teachers also happily pack up their classrooms each June and head off for summer adventures. For some it is sipping ice tea by a cool pool and enjoying a great book, while for others is might be more adventurous canoeing, hiking, or paddle-boarding experiences that occupy their days. Teachers, like their students, know how to have a good time outside of school walls!
Every year many of our teachers see summer as an opportunity for professional growth. They are encouraged to apply for grant money to fund learning experiences both locally and abroad. I remember how excited I was the summer after my first year teaching third grade, when I was given the opportunity to learn more about our Viking Unit by traveling to the land of the Nordics! I strolled through Viking museums, sailed on a replica Viking ship, and soaked in the amazing culture of Norway, Iceland, and Denmark. Ten years later, I am still able to enjoy growth experiences every summer thanks to the generosity of many Gilman related donors.
The International Boys’ School Coalition has an annual meeting every summer at a member school. Headmaster Smyth always tries to attend as it is a great time to meet informally with leaders of boys’ schools around the world. This year I had the opportunity to attend as well. Vancouver, BC, the site of this year’s meeting, had been on my bucket list of places to visit, and it didn’t disappoint. I was inspired by a plethora of great speakers (some of which I will be including in future blogs this year), and enjoyed building a global network of fellow teachers who love teaching boys. Next year Gilman and St. Paul’s will assist Boys’ Latin in hosting the conference. Below is a quick snapshot of Henry and our fellow school heads welcoming everyone to Baltimore next year.
As I stood soaking in the native culture of this part of North America, I was reminded again of how fortunate I am to work at an institution that places such high value on professional teacher growth.
Some of the many summer grants our teachers experienced included the second grade team (new teacher Zaccai Williams also!) traveling to Ellis Island to gather information for their Immigration Unit, new teacher Barry James accompanying Ellen Rizzuto on two science-related conferences where they collaborated on curriculum and learned new ideas about coding and robotics, and Jennie Iglehart, along with Katie Berman, jaunting across the ocean to attend different workshops at Oxford University. Several teachers learned more about iPads in the elementary classroom, while others explored yoga for young boys, and traveled the path of the early American gold rush in California. Jen Reiter was selected, out of an impressive pool of teachers from around the country, to explore teaching with primary source documents at the Library of Congress. Dr. Webster learned more about the Chesapeake Bay and ways to promote environmental education through a grant from the Chesapeake Bay Foundation specifically for independent school administrators.
These are only some of the school-wide learning experiences of our faculty. With so many teacher “summer learning” trips over the summer, this promises to be another year of new connections, new energy, and continued growth!