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BCSD SAIL program keeps skillful teachers in classrooms

Published Monday, July 2, 2018

Summer SAIL training session

This photo was taken during one of the 2018 SAIL sessions at Cane Bay High School. The two-week event was kicked off with a focus on technology in the classroom. (BCSD photo)

Students at Berkeley County schools left campuses for the summer during the first week of June, but learning continued for teachers and administrators.

For two weeks, June 11-22, teachers and administrators attended learning sessions provided by the Berkeley County School District Summer Academy for Instruction and Learning (SAIL) program. With more than 180 classes designed to provide educators with opportunities to collaborate, learn new information and further develop leadership strategies, administrators believe programs like SAIL give BCSD educators an edge as they prepare for the next school year.

“All sessions were great,” said BCSD Director of Professional Development Sharon Snyder.

Snyder said the conference was kicked off with a strong focus on technology, but perhaps one of the most impressive sessions was less about virtual learning and more about personal connections and realistic approaches to leading teams and classrooms.

In a training titled “Artisan Leader and Coaching Best Practices,” education industry consultant Dr. Mike Rutherford worked with BCSD principals and assistant principals on “results-based organizational improvement.”

“Our principals had the opportunity to work with Dr. Rutherford all day. Leaders were engaged and excited with the training,” Snyder said.

Rutherford, a former teacher, coach and principal, describes education as a “complicated business.” However, he says every formula that sets great schools apart from average schools includes skillful teaching. His overall message to the group was to focus on what excellent, skillful teaching looks like and how it can become consistent.

“The most important thing we do is put great teaching in front of students, anything that accelerates that, is good for business,” Rutherford said.

Cane Bay Elementary School Principal Melissa LaBerge said one day with Dr. Rutherford was more beneficial than week-long leadership conferences she attended in the past. As a whole, she described the two-week event as perfectly-timed.

“I think it is extremely helpful to provide staff members opportunities to gain recertification credits,” she said. “…As much as they are ready for their summer to start, the timing is right.”

While that opportunity to gain training/credit hours is a must for teachers needing to remain certified, SAIL sessions are designed to pique the interest of educators. Principal LaBerge said you could see it in packed classes without mandates. She credited that to the focus on technology.

“Having that focus really generates that interest for certain teachers,” she said.

While designed for teachers, the program is ultimately about better-preparing students. BCSD Superintendent Dr. Eddie Ingram describes such opportunities to evolve as educators as crucial to the learning process of students.

“We have to ensure we are staying up to date and preparing our children for their future and not our past,” he said.

The majority of SAIL was held at Cane Bay High School with some sessions hosted on nearby campuses.

For more information on professional development opportunities for Berkeley County School District teachers and administrators, CLICK HERE.

Brian Troutman