NORTH DARTMOUTH — The well-known phrase, “Once a teacher, forever a student,” definitely applies to the 500-plus educators, administrators, and staff members who are the backbones of the Diocese of Fall River’s 17 Catholic schools. Twice a year, the Catholic Schools Office sponsors a full day of professional development for all levels of educators and staff. This year, on November 9, Bishop Stang High School will host a full day of educational sessions consisting of topics such as “Techniques for Helping English Language Learners,” “Dyslexia and ADHD—A Story of Access,” and “Approaching Challenging Behaviors with a Social and Emotional Learning Lens.”
The Catholic Schools Office leans on the expertise within the teams of educators and staff as well as outside partners such as The ADAC, The S.E.A.L. Foundation, FACTS, and Cox Digital Media to provide the content for the 36 different sessions available to each participant. Unlike previous years, there will not be a keynote speaker, as prior feedback after last year’s events indicated that participants would prefer to attend an additional session of choice.
Assistant Superintendent of diocesan schools Denise Peixoto, who has been leading these events for many years, commented, “These professional days allow our educators and staff from Attleboro to Cape Cod to re-connect and exchange ideas from past years. For example, all pre-kindergarten teachers have a chance to network and understand challenges facing other parts of the diocese. This interaction enriches the educational experience of our teachers, as well as help them understand they are an integral part of a much larger organization.”
“So much has changed in education just within the past few years, which is why these diocesan professional days are so important,” said diocesan Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Daniel S. Roy. “New programs, tools, standards, and research are constantly entering the scopes of our teachers and we want to be sure they are always fully prepare to integrate best practices into their classrooms and schools. Moreover, having everyone come together reminds each educator that they are a part of a larger organization whose sole purpose is to educate the minds and souls of our future. I find these professional days to be very invigorating, motivating, and well worth the investment.”
Matthew Bourque, principal of St. Mary Catholic School in Mansfield, added, “My team enjoys professional learning opportunities as it gives them a chance to be the student once again. Our school motto at St. Mary’s is ‘Loving to learn and learning to grow,’ and our teachers and staff are the first in our community to live this out. Teachers inherently like to keep learning to ensure they are providing the best for their students. There’s a great deal of sharing between the teachers and staff after a day like this because everyone gets to choose which sessions to attend, which means they get just what they need in terms of professional development.”
“As a high school administrator on the Cape, I find these professional days an opportunity to connect with other high school administrators who face similar challenges,” said Mona Lisa Valentino, Assistant Head of School for St. John Paul II School in Hyannis. “The day is usually packed with so many opportunities to learn and network, and I always come away with a better understanding of how to address a challenge through the lunch session with other high school administrators. Education is very complex and we all strive to provide the very best education for our students and families.”