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At Myrtle Point High School, staff start the year by taking some time away from school. A staff retreat held at a nearby vacation house removes distractions and allows educators to re-focus on the most important part of their jobs--the students.
The staff retreat serves as the first opportunity of the year to focus on professional development, which includes increasing academic rigor, improving teacher knowledge and skill, and improving student engagement. "As the year continues, we spend at least one hour per school week in building level development," said Jessica Nickerson, counselor and GEAR UP coordinator in Myrtle Point. The conversations continue through Professional Learning Communities and other professional development opportunities.
In addition, the staff retreat also served as an opportunity to focus on the goals of GEAR UP and implementing the program for the coming year. GEAR UP staff shared data about their students and their feelings and preparedness for college as well as staff expectations. “This really helped to remind our staff about the importance of us helping to set the framework for these students to go onto college,” said Nickerson.
“We have added Writing Across the Curriculum and Proficiency Based Grading into our GEAR UP plan the last two years,” she added.
Our belief is that connecting the academic rigor and college-going culture pieces in our plan and making staff aware of this will help them understand the overall picture and purpose for the work we do with students every day.
Staff also had the opportunity to learn more about key GEAR UP initiatives for the coming year and choose at least two field trips or committees to be involved with including college visits, March Madness, and College Application Week. Those that chose a field trip will help with the supervision of that trip and those that chose a committee will help implement that activity for the year,” said Nickerson.“This is our new idea for helping to get staff more involved with GEAR UP and for creating a college-going culture.” Staff were then rewarded with GEAR UP t-shirts and other swag!