Friday, April 11, 2008
Carlisle School shares staff development, new ideas at EDCO
The Carlisle Public School is one of 21 school districts that belong to the Education Collaborative (EDCO), a multi-focused organization created to assist all aspects of education. EDCO activities run from professional development courses for regular and special education teachers, to financial education for school business managers, to round-table discussions on educational topics, to therapeutic services for children.
First formed in 1969 as a private non-profit organization focusing on issues relating to desegregation, EDCO added a public non-profit branch in 1988. EDCO is funded primarily through federal, state and local agency grants, as well as district memberships.
Neighboring school districts in Acton, Concord and Bedford belong to the MetroWest collaborative, which also includes the Archdiocese of Boston schools. The collaborative, located on Winter Street in Waltham, has an annual operating budget of about $14 million. Carlisle’s membership fee this year is $5,959, which allows participation in a variety of discussion groups. An additional fee of $2,000 allows faculty access to professional development courses.
Educators share ideas
Through EDCO subcommittees, discussions are held on topics of specific interest for superintendents, school committee members, administrators, special educators, technologists and teachers. For example, Carlisle School Superintendent Marie Doyle participates in the monthly superintendents’ meetings. “We work on political issues,” Doyle explained in an interview. They also arrange forums each year, focusing on issues such as increasing funding for special education, Doyle said.
Carlisle School Committee (CSC) Chair Nicole Burkel recently attended an EDCO meeting that discussed full-day kindergarten. She said educators are concerned there will be a push to use the additional time to add to the curriculum, instead of allowing the children “to have more time to process” the traditional kindergarten curriculum. Next month EDCO will hold a panel discussion on technology and learning that will consider using self-guided computer instruction in the classroom.
Curriculum coordinators get together once a month, explained Doyle. Committees for curriculum coordinators include: foreign language, health, language arts, library/media, mathematics, technology leadership, science and social studies. Technology Integration Specialist Cyd McCann is Carlisle’s representative on the Technology Leadership Committee, which reviews many issues, such as technology assessment, pricing discounts, robotics, web site standards, tech fairs, Web 2.0, student email accounts and software. McCann added, “The discussions are lively and we learn a lot from each other.”
Courses for teachers
Staff development is a key feature of EDCO, explained Doyle. Educators receive professional development points for non-college courses, while some EDCO courses are offered through universities and can be taken for college credits. Carlisle teachers who work with students who have limited English have taken required training through EDCO. “It’s the cheapest professional development around,” Doyle said.
Elementary Spanish teacher Andrea Seddon, along with teachers from Weston and Belmont Public Schools, will be teaching four sessions of “Strategies for Effective Foreign Language Instruction” this summer and fall. Teachers receive a (very) small stipend from EDCO, Doyle explained, for teaching seminars.
In the past year, about 35 Carlisle staff members have taken courses through EDCO. Classes have included: Teaching for Understanding, Music as a Way of Knowing, Anti-racist Teaching for All Students, School-based Occupational Therapy, Teaching about Native Americans, Advanced Excel, Legal Requirements for School Districts, and Best Educational Resources on the Web.
Programs for students
EDCO supports many programs that provide direct services to thousands of students across the state. EDCO is a liaison to state programs such as the surrogate parent program for children whose parents are unable to participate education decisions. EDCO also directly oversees other services: educational services to students in state institutions, education for deaf students, two alternative high school classrooms in Watertown for students with emotional or behavioral issues, social and life skills instruction for students with autism and programs for children of migrant workers.
Carlisle is also a member of the Concord Area Special Education (CASE) collaborative. EDCO programs for special needs students complement rather than duplicate CASE programs. ∆
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