Creating Success for All Learners not only applies to the students of Wolf Creek Public Schools (WCPS), but also to its staff. Summer Institute, a two-day professional development conference, has become the traditional way to begin each school year in Wolf Creek.
“I love Summer Institute. It’s a chance for our staff to come together to start the year by modeling what education is all about…learning to learn in a rapidly changing world. To truly equip our students to succeed in this new world, we need to model, build, and practice the skills of learning, working together, and using new tools,” said assistant superintendent Gerry Varty.
More than 370 certified and non-certified WCPS staff members attended their choice of 42 sessions over the two days. All but six of the sessions were instructed by Wolf Creek staff members sharing their knowledge with their colleagues to make the entire division stronger and better for the students they serve.
“Historically, every big improvement in education has come from within — it’s not about buildings, textbooks, or programs, it’s about improving both people and culture,” Varty said. “The willingness of our own Wolf Creek employees to share and collaborate, to be willing to both lead the sessions and learn from their peers, is the hallmark of a purposeful, healthy culture that is striving to reach new heights.”
A variety of topics was available for participants to choose from at Summer Institute. There were sessions about new ideas for aiding students in reaching their full potential; strategies for working with students with behavioural and/or developmental difficulties, first aid training; and new technologies and procedures to improve classroom and office activities.
Mark McWhinnie, WCPS director of technology integration, organized the technology-related sessions.
“Summer Institute provided the opportunity to learn how to integrate a large number of 21st century tools and technologies in meaningful and purposeful ways. It is exciting to see how these digital tools of literacy are creating engaging and powerful learning opportunities for Wolf Creek students!”
Terry Ramsay, director of special education, was also instrumental in the organization of the Institute and ensured there were sessions geared toward serving students of all abilities and needs.
“In Wolf Creek Public Schools we are committed to the success of all learners and are well aware that each child is unique therefore a variety of learning strategies are required. Summer Institute provides our teachers and support staff the opportunity to advance their skills and knowledge in this area.”
This year, the division opened up Summer Institute to parents as well. They were invited to attend the Welcome Back Breakfast and then a special session led by the Alberta School Councils Association about how parents can become more involved in their school councils and the education of their children.
In addition to Summer Institute, the WCPS transportation department held a half-day in-service for bus drivers. The morning began with a welcome back to all drivers and then continued to cover routes and regular start-up information.
The Summer Institute and the Transportation Department’s inservice are integral parts of Wolf Creek Public Schools’ professional development plan and truly exemplifies the motto of Creating Success For All Learners.
In this case, the learners were the staff of WCPS, who will pass on many benefits to their students from their expanded base of knowledge across the jurisdiction.