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On August 22, nine teachers presented their projects to the Eastern Christian Educational Council as part of the school’s innovative Pathway Program. Developed in 2013, the leadership development program represents a distinctive of Eastern Christian and a win-win for teachers and students. 

The program provides a way for experienced teachers with a master’s to go one step further and earn a Master Teacher, Senior Specialist or an Educational Leader career designation. Teachers pursue further professional development in areas of professional passion, and tie in research projects and initiatives that will benefit the school system. It also provides teachers with an opportunity for increased compensation.

“The program is intended to support teachers who go way above and beyond the normal expectations of their classroom and will provide opportunities for them to develop additional leadership skills and broader exposure within the organization,” says Head of School Ruth Kuder.

This year, nine presenters shared projects in a small group setting using a consultancy protocol that included a presentation, time for questions and discussion, and then a presenter response and debrief. The presenting teachers were at different places in this three-year-long professional development process.

Under the curriculum category: 

  • Christina McGowan spoke on implementing best practices for reading and writing in early education. 
  • Joyce Breur presented on her continued work with middle school language arts curriculum, which included more intentionality in strengthening global competency. 
  • Stephen Bailey shared his research on improving standards for Bible education, which included proactively mitigating youth culture trends that point to declining biblical literacy. 

In regards to promoting a safe and nurturing environment

  • Alyssa Westra explained her goals for the Responsive Classroom teacher methodology, a methodology that is rooted in creating safe, joyful and engaging learning communities. 
  • Jessica Truran presented her continued work on trauma-informed teaching. 
  • Esther Kim discussed culturally responsive curriculum, the facilitation of which increases student academic engagement and strengthens implementation of core values at the school.

Finally, on teacher support and development:

  • Donna Furrey explained her goals to increase math fluency for all types of learners, and then share these math resources to colleagues.
  • Tim Steen showed his work on digitizing teacher professional development at the master-teacher level, as well as his next step to bring it to the school’s larger Professional Development Academy. 
  • Jim Uitermarkt unveiled a plan for instructional coaching of new teachers, and in particular adopting a coaching cycle modeled after educational best practices that promote a growth mindset. 

“Teachers are the ones most directly responsible for student growth, which is at the heart of our work. We believe that excellent teaching results in students who meet our mission of developing students’ gifts so they are ‘empowered to act as Christ’s transforming agents in a global society.’ Eastern Christian School is committed to supporting teachers in their own learning and growth,” Kuder adds.

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