LENOX — Superintendent William Collins is pleased to announce that Lenox Public Schools staff participated in a belonging-themed professional development day last week.
Lenox Public Schools has been working to create a “Brave and Safe Space” for all students. In support of that goal, LPS arranged for educators from both schools to participate in a district-wide professional development day designed around fostering inclusivity and belonging.
Dr. Collins said, “We want Lenox Public Schools to be recognized as a ‘Beacon of Belongingness’ in Western Massachusetts and beyond. Belongingness goes way beyond equity. We know that children and adults perform best in a place where they feel safe to be themselves. The Elementary Principal and Middle/High School Principal deserve high praise for specifically designing an engaging professional development experience that differs from the same old thing.”
International education speaker Adam Welcome kicked off the day, followed by breakout sessions designed to further inform and cultivate skills to help educators make Lenox students of all backgrounds feel welcome.
Dr. Collins commented, “You wouldn’t go to a medical doctor who hadn’t kept up with advances in the medical field since leaving med school. Our educators are professionals who seek high-quality professional development to perform at the top of their field. This professional development was designed to meet their request.”
National, State, and regional experts assembled on Friday, Feb. 2, at Lenox Memorial Middle High School to provide a rich experience with various elective sessions from which to choose. Some time was even set aside for staff wellness opportunities through Len Mackey and local business partners Kripalu and Canyon Ranch.
Some of the professional development sessions included lessons on: Are We Reaching All Children?, Microaggressions, the Anti-Defamation League’s Anti-Bias Curriculum Guides, Promoting Resilience and Healthy Outcomes for LGBTQ Students, Building a Relational Culture, Migrant and Immigrant Students, and Bridging to Belonging.
In quoting leadership author Simon Sinek, Dr. Collins said, “Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first. Translated from business to the world of education, creating a culture of caring for teachers, support staff, and administrators will model a school-wide culture where ‘our customers’ – the students – know they are valued, respected, and cherished.
“It was a great day. Participants are telling us that they cannot recall the last time that they experienced such a meaningful day of professional development sessions. Our educators walked away with expanded knowledge and tangible skills, which will translate into an increased sense of belonging for our students. Additionally, they walked away feeling that Lenox Public Schools cares about their well-being.”
Nancy Greenwald, a Title One Interventionist, said of the day, “It was energizing and motivating. It inspired us to engage our students in new and relevant ways, and at the same time, reminded us of the importance of fostering our own mental health. But, most importantly, the day was about diversity, inclusivity, and a strong sense of belonging, not only for the students but also for the staff.”
“This professional development day was not a ‘one and done,’” promised Dr. Collins. “Our journey to become a Beacon of Belongingness is just beginning. I am grateful to everyone who had a hand in creating, executing, and participating in this wonderful day to make big things happen in our little district.”