With mixed emotions, they bid adieu to summer break and headed back to class Wednesday. The teachers, that is.
Students in the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District have a few more days of freedom, but the adults who teach them are back at work. Principals and secretaries started work earlier this month, and teachers reported for their first day Wednesday at what has become an annual institution, the districtwide in-service meeting (see related story, this page).
From Hope to Homer, Tyonek to Tustumena, teachers gathered Wednesday at Kenai Central High School and Kenai Middle School for information and inspiration.
This year, reading was the theme.
"We are all teachers of reading," said Superintendent Donna Peterson. "Not only are we all in this together, but we all heard the same message," she said. "The message was very clear, delivered well and accepted."
This year, for the first time, the meeting was recorded for broadcast on the Internet via the district's Web site. Late hires from as far away as Pennsylvania were able to "attend" the meeting from afar, she said.
The keynote speaker was educator Quality Quinn Sharp, who has been active in reading promotion projects in several states. And, yes, that is her real name.
"It has been a drag since the third grade," Sharp said.
The meeting was an opportunity for the district administration to outline changes and goals to all the teachers. It included information on district resources, meetings for teachers in each subject to review new curriculum, workshops on ways to enhance student learning, and training sessions mandated by state law.
The district used to conduct the meetings over several days in October, but has consolidated them into one day before school starts to be more efficient, Peterson said.
She challenged those people who criticize in-service training sessions as unnecessary and expensive.
The entire program cost the district less than $10,000. It is a chance for people to see they are part of the district and to learn from each other, she said.
"That cross-germination of ideas is priceless," Peterson said.
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