Today more than two thousand Toms River Regional Schools employees attended a professional development event hosted by the district with the theme of "Engaging the Whole Child." The event was held at RWJBarnabas Health Arena and throughout High School North.
The district's Curriculum and Instruction Department-- led by Norma DeNoia and Cara DiMeo, directors of curriculum 6-12 and K-5, respectively, as well as District Test Coordinator Dr. Estee Mailot, the department's staff, and other district administrators-- helped design the full-day event. What made the day unique in the context of recent PD days was that it was comprehensive, and brought all district employees together under one roof, including elementary- and secondary-level instructors, administrators, and support staff.
Dr. Tracey Severns was the event's keynote speaker. In addition to serving as leadership and learning strategist for Rutgers Graduate School of Education’s Center for Effective School Practices, Dr. Severn also hosts DisruptED TV, a program dedicated to conversations about education that challenge the status quo. Her keynote address, entitled "L.E.A.R.N.," aimed to reconnect educators with their purpose, their passion, and their power by revealing how the factors that lie within our control impact the social, emotional and academic development of students.
The professional development day served as a continuum of district efforts toward a holistic, whole child approach centered on social and emotional learning. Last year's K-5 professional development event, for example, focused on social-emotional learning, as did the district's leadership camp this summer. This past August, Intermediate South became one of only 21 NJ schools selected to host the Whole School, Whole Community, Whole Child health program, and an administrative retreat to open the 2018-2019 school year centered on how to engage all students through social and emotional-based methods.
A series of workshops followed the keynote session, for which instructors and administrators had preregistered. Some workshops were hosted by external field professionals, while many were hosted by the district's own educators and administrators. Structured into K-12; K-12 technology; K-5; 6-12; and support staff, workshops offered a diverse range of topics, from the impact of trauma on educational performance, to data collection, to CPR instruction, to paraprofessional support.
The "Engaging the Whole Child" PD day provided breakfast which was sponsored by AXA Equitable, and lunch was available from several local food trucks, Cafe @ 1144, and Jersey Mike's.
A full gallery of photos from the day can be viewed below.