SOCSD holds district-wide professional development summit

Faculty from the Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District participated in the district's first Sparking Excellence Summit Friday. Teachers, administrators and other district staff participated in various professional development sessions in preparation for the school year. (Photo by Charlie Benton, SDN)

Staff Writer

Starkville-Oktibbeha Consolidated School District faculty got professional development out of the way and even had some time for fellowship at the district’s first Sparking Excellence Summit Friday.

In preparation for students returning Tuesday teachers, administrators and other staff went through several training sessions covering everything from good teaching habits to new technology. Participants were also treated to a fish fry.

Assistant Superintendent Christy Maulding said the best way to support students was to make sure teachers were well trained.

“There are some things that are just required for teachers to be trained on, but also with our teachers, just like with our students, differentiation is important, according to their interests, their needs, their strengths, their weaknesses. It’s important for teachers to have opportunities to go to sessions that interest them, or to sessions that are topics that they want to grow in,” Maulding said. Maulding said she had received good feedback on the summit from attendees, but hoped to smooth out some of the logistics in future summits. “As far as content and engagement, I think today has been an overwhelming success,” Maulding said.

Both district personnel and presenters from outside entities led sessions at the summit. Outside presenters included representatives from Apple, the Mississippi Department of Education and Mississippi State University, among others.

Millsaps Career and Technology Center Director Lenora Hogan said the session she led “Instructional Strategies that Engage the Brain” had run out of space, despite her bringing extra chairs in. She said she was asked to present the same session to the faculty of West Elementary School later this year.

“It’s free, because it’s educators in our district sharing expertise in different areas,” Hogan said. “We don’t have to go to conferences and pay money to go. It’s in-house, and it’s from our experts.”

English-language arts lead teacher Vickie Chatman explained the importance of the development to her.

“A lot of the sessions I’ve gone to have lots of things related to literacy throughout all of our subject areas, helping students to read, write, think, talk, collaborate, a lot of those 21st century skills that they’ll need going into college and the workforce,” Chatman said.

Maulding said she was excited to have the students back and described what her first thought would be on the first day.

“We have lots to do, but the first thing we have to attend to is knowing who we have with us, letting them know that we’re glad that they’re there and making sure that we know where we need to get them home to every day,” Maulding said.