Westfield Public Schools host comprehensive PD sessions for staff


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Joe Martino | Wochit

Whether delving into the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), non-fiction reading strategies, dyslexia training, or the ever critical issue of student and staff mental health, teachers and paraprofessionals in the Westfield Public School District participated in wide-ranging professional development sessions on Feb. 15 and 16.

“It was a really dynamic two days. We had a great blend of in-district facilitators and out-of- district consultants addressing the professional learning needs of our staff,” said Paul Pineiro, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and programs, whose office organized the multi-building staff inservice days.

READ: Westfield’s Wilson School participates in Month of Hope

Depending on their specific positions, staff members were assigned to various inservice courses.  Among the comprehensive offerings were break-out science sessions for teachers in grades K-5 who are rolling out the new science curriculum. Teachers explored investigative planning, engineering practices, science notebooks and other lessons, while participating in grade level training aimed at helping them to best implement the NGSS in their classrooms.  

“The goal is to make teaching science easier for you and more engaging for your students,” said K-12 Supervisor of Science Tom Paterson before teachers moved on to the individual NGSS sessions. 

Pineiro said one of the aspects he liked most about this full-day of science training was its hybrid approach.

“The best people to deliver two of the three modules were right here in district,” he said. “But we also needed an expert in how to use the program materials that accompany the new science curriculum. For that we brought in training staff from the vendor.”

READ: Student news: Hands-on learning focus of Westfield school’s STEAM event

There was curriculum mapping for world language teachers, moot court simulations for intermediate social studies instructors, a review of new standards for the visual and performing arts, movement education for high school physical education teachers and much more.

Psychologist Rob Zambrano of the Stress and Anxiety Services of New Jersey, talked about how to spot signs of panic disorder, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other stresses on a child’s mental health, while his colleague, psychologist Charity Truong, addressed the issue of cognitive behavioral therapy and anxiety.

On the second day of the inservice, all staff members gathered in the WHS auditorium to hear sobering statistics yet empowering strategies from Phyllis Alongi, clinical director of the Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide.  Assistant Superintendent for Pupil Services Michael Weissman called the presentation “relevant, timely and significant.”

That afternoon, teachers returned to their schools to receive individualized training on the soon-to-be new teacher webpages.

“The district is committed to providing opportunities for our staff members to grow professionally,” Superintendent Margaret Dolan said. “I commend all our staff for their dedication and continued commitment as educators.”

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