Dear VCMS Families,

I have information to share about the ongoing professional development in which the middle school staff is engaging as we continue the accreditation process. As part of that process, teachers are asked, “What will support the success of our students?”  Every staff member read Zaratta Hammond’s book “Culturally Responsive Teaching” during this past summer. In this book, Hammond shares information about the neuroscience of learning while also providing specific reasons why education must mirror the students’ life experiences as much as possible. 

Springboarding from Hammond’s work, our most recent professional development focuses on two themes: clear communication and reaching individual students. These topics continue to lay the foundation for a student-driven curriculum that meets the diverse needs and experiences of our students while holding true to the high standards and academic rigor that are hallmarks of our program.  

I thought it was important to share this one example of the many ways in which our middle school faculty is applying the latest educational research into their classrooms.

This month VCMS is beginning the annual teacher Spend-a-Day program. During the Spend-a-Day program, middle school staff members spend a day at school as a visiting student – including breaks and lunch periods. More than any other in-service, speaker or professional development opportunity, this time teachers and administrators spend as students leads to meaningful discussions about what our students experience, and often leads to adjustments to our existing program. This opportunity has proven to be so valuable over the years that it is now a required part of the professional development for all new staff members, and an option for continuing teachers.

I will continue to share the focus of our professional development in future VC View newsletters, and hope that you are seeing elements of our professional development work its way into your children’s school day.

Dr. Jennifer Gfroerer