The Huntington County Community School Corporation (HCCSC) Board of Trustees met in a regular meeting on Monday, Sept. 27, hearing two separate presentations regarding vital programming and development plans for the corporation.
First was a special presentation for summer professional development, which featured several special speakers, including Kathy Hall, Deb Daugherty, Lynn Brown, Beth Husband and others.
Each speaker explained what summer professional development had been completed in their own particular branch, starting with elementary school professional development.
According to Hall, professional development days in June were comprised of coaches’ training with Christi Wright, in which the focus was phonics. This training was used to prepare the participants to support the teachers in the buildings once they had received their phonics materials. This training was a two-day training.
Next, elementary school staff worked with literacy coaches in July and planned to execute a two-day training. A total of 49 teachers were in attendance. They were trained on the materials and were able to organize materials before the beginning of the school year. Each elementary school building had representatives present, but those teachers that were unable to go to the summer training will receive the same training through smaller coaching sessions.
The next steps for the elementary schools are to move forward with their five-year plan to refresh literacy materials and to continue trainings with Wright.
Deb Daugherty then presented for the middle school, stating that more than 30 middle school educators were present for summer PD sessions, focusing on personalized learning for technology sessions as well as orientation and new teacher trainings. Moving forward, the middle schools will continue to support STEAM Labs and High Ability programs, among other things.
Other presentation points included high-school educators focusing on re-writing curriculum for certain subjects, training teachers for better technology integration and working toward consistency across the board in all levels of schooling.
Moving on to the second presentation of the evening, presenters spoke on the importance of having a system for onboarding new teachers. Husband, Brown and Daugherty explained that, starting in 2018, they had started working on a program that was designed to help teach educators to think about education through a business lense – and for their final project of their MBA for educators program, the trio was tasked with implementing a program that could be put into the district and use their skills to make change.
Often times, first-year teachers, or teachers that are new to a district, can get overwhelmed if they are not properly introduced to how the district functions and how each school functions. If they are not receiving proper onboarding, the new teachers can get so overwhelmed that they decide to leave the district for other opportunities.
During the 2017-18 school year, almost 40 percent of the new teachers in the HCCSC district left. The next year, that decreased to 31 percent of new teachers leaving. And finally, the year after that, the number of new teachers leaving the district dropped to 14 percent. But, despite that shrinking number, each new teacher that leaves represents wasted resources and a decrease in a positive culture for Huntington schools.
The presenters explained that there are multiple ways that the program can benefit the corporation and take off – and that the program is fluid and will grow as the district grows. One of the options that they gave was to implement specific professional development topics during specific days of the year, which were listed in the presentation. These PD dates, which they had scheduled to be sprinkled throughout the year, included PD session topics such as academic intensity and curriculum, special education supports, blended learning, student centered learning and more.
Board President Matt Roth stated that “anything (HCCSC) can do to retain teachers, I think is really important.”
In unrelated business, business manager Scott Bumgardner announced that HCCSC had applied for an emergency connectivity grant about seven months ago, and that the grant had been received.
“We didn’t know much about it, but several of these have shown up during this COVID period,” Bumgardner said. “We heard this morning that we received the grant. And this is not a small deal for our community, for our students or our corporation.”
The grant monies awarded totaled $944,875, which will be able to be applied to the K through 5 device refresh that is coming up. The money has to be used before June 30, 2022.