Each year our teachers gain new insight, knowledge and expertise through Tower’s robust professional development program. Opportunities include: math and literacy conferences, diversity workshops, graduate study, primary source travel, and a variety of additional workshops and national conferences for educators.
Thanks to the generosity of our families, Tower has the resources to enable teachers and administrators to continually expand their knowledge and enrich the classroom experience for our students.
Below are just a few examples of faculty professional development that enhance the experiences for our students:
Webb Thompson, Grade 6 English & History Teacher, Past McCann Chair
Webb Thompson traveled to Greece to enhance his ancient Greek history curriculum and the portion of his English curriculum that focuses on Greek Mythology, particularly the Iliad and Odyssey.
His itinerary included Athens, Crete and Santorini, and followed his history curriculum, which focuses on the Bronze Age of Greece through the development of democracy in Athens.
A significant highlight of his trip was walking up the path and through the Lion Gate of the citadel of Mycenae. "This was the site of the most powerful civilization of the late Bronze Age and the home of Agamemnon, the high king in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. After teaching and researching this subject for 17 years, I thought I had a deep understanding of the Bronze Age civilizations, but walking under this Lion Gate was something else. With the Cyclopean Walls on either side of me and the huge lions and column that symbolized its power, I was struck by a greater understanding. I look forward to being able to pass along what I learned in Greece to my students for years to come." (8.2019)
Chris Field, Woodworking Teacher
Chris Field attended the Yestermorrow Design and Build Studios in Vermont to gain experience learning how to bend wood, along with current woodshop standards and best practices and built a frame on skin canoe while in attendance. (8.2022)
Andrea McEachern, Grade 6 English and Math Teacher
Andrea McEachern attended the week-long Landmark Executive Function Strategies class and learned strategies and techniques to help students manage their time, material and assignments. (7.2022)
Kelley Howells, Grade 3 Homeroom Teacher and DEI Coordinator
Kelley Howells participated in the AISNE Leadership and Racial Justice Fellows Program in Westwood and Norwood in preparation for my role as DEI Coordinator at Tower. (7.2022)
Christine McCarthy, Grade 5 Homeroom Teacher and Technology in Education Team Member
Christine McCarthy completed an online PESI seminar on working with students with anxiety (with some info around ADHD incorporated). Additionally, Christine completed the course, ISTE Summer Learning Academy & Coping Skills for Kids: Innovative Activity-Based Techniques to Effectively Manage Anxiety, ADHD, and Anger, for the ISTE Standards for Students as part of my work on the TIE team. (7.2022)
Sig Orne, Grades 7 & 8 History Teacher, History Chair
Sig Orne traveled the first 1000 miles of the Oregon Trail, documenting the journey through copious notes, interviews and photographs. Ms. Orne brings her seven-day, immersive education of westward expansion to life when teaching students about the mid-1800s and Westward Expansion. (7.2022)
Erica Osattin, Grade 4, Homeroom Teacher
Erica Osattin took two one-day workshops to help support her readers this year. One was through Landmark and one was through Wilson. I learned many strategies to help support the readers in my group. I also came away with a lot of resources to use throughout the year. (8.2022)
Jo Price, Music Teacher
Ms. Price gained proficiency in repair and maintenance of the Marimba instruments. She replaced damaged and worn parts on the Bass and Tenor marimbas. She arranged new pieces for the ensemble, and sourced adaptive mallets for students
Rachel Perrella, Grade 2 and Mindfulness Practitioner
Rachel spent five days at Kripalu participating in the “Breathe With Tigers” workshop. During her time at Kripalu, Rachel was able to take a deep dive into meditation, movement meditation, and Prana flow. Her goal is to strengthen her mindfulness practice with students and share her understanding and techniques with other faculty.
Deacon Chapin, Grades 7 & 8 Math, Technology in Education Team Co-Chair
Deacon Chapin completed ISTE Summer Learning Academy courses related to work as TIE Team co-chair. The courses provided an overview of the ISTE standards and gave suggestions for how these could be implemented. (2022)
Deacon streamlined and enhanced the middle school math curriculum through a three-stage approach.
Stage 1. Identified areas of redundancy between 6th and 7th grade curricula and streamlined those to provide an efficient review rather than a complete re-teaching. Identified core Algebra concepts that could be covered during those times instead as a preparation for 8th grade.
Stage 2. Inserted those core Algebra concepts into the new 7th grade space. Also identified areas within the 7th and 8th grade programs that could take some geometry review questions in order to help mitigate challenges in those areas on recent standardized testing.
Stage 3. Integrated elements of the Phillips Exeter math curriculum into weekly problem sets for 8th grade students that will provide an opportunity for more frequent, graded feedback and discussion. (2021)
Colleen Parenteau, Science Teacher
Colleen Parenteau completed an online program, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia: Building NEW Neuropathways to Master Visual and Auditory Skills (2022)
Colleen gained certification in permaculture design to learn from ecological design professionals and educators about creating permaculture gardens with her students. Through this course, she learned design and growing techniques that she can apply to her lessons within the greenhouse and raised bed garden spaces. (2021)
Colleen investigated the curriculum of Reforest the Tropics (RTT) to determine how she could effectively teach, augment and incorporate the RTT lessons into Tower's science curriculum for grades 4-6.
The Reforest the Tropics curriculum now enhances the following science topics:
- Grade 4: Static & Current Electricity
- Renewable and Non-renewable energy sources
- Grade 5: Rainforest Ecosystems
- Photosynthesis & Carbon Cycle
- Grade 6: Weather vs. Climate
- Water Cycle, Currents/patterns, & Climate Change
Sarah Arnold and Nina Miller, Learning Skills
To support K-2 readers, Sarah Arnold and Nina Miller developed a phonics scope and sequence and constructed a phonics-based resource room. They equipped the room with cabinets and folders organized around the scope and sequence. Word cards were created for each skill, and they curated additional skill materials. They selected decodable books to support Tower's phonics program and catalogued each story/chapter by new phonics skill. They also created a phonics placement screener to assess where readers are along the phonics spectrum. (2022)
Anna Walcutt, Lower School Spanish
In expanding the Spanish curriculum to include Kindergarten and grade 1, Anna evaluated several programs known to be successful, and selected Mundo de Pepita for grades K-4.
The curriculum is organized into thematic units. Highlights include country studies of Peru, Mexico, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico, as well as units on polite expressions, pets, salsa making, and more.
After selecting Mundo de Pepita, Anna mapped the curriculum for K-4, updated the skill-based goals for each grade, and developed a new database of songs for grades K-2.
Elaina Louisos-Kramer, Learning Skills and Speech/Language Pathologist
Elaina Louisos-Kramer attended a summer institute course taught by Wendy Ellis at Landmark School which provided practical strategies for developing social communication skills in children with language-based learning disabilities.
Included were: social skills that need to be explicitly taught, such as strategies for self-regulation, working memory, inhibitory control and mental flexibility.
Ms. Ellis described social communication as being presented within a context but changes depending on “who we’re with and where we are”—a mantra she repeats to her students on a daily basis. She emphasized the importance of using common language that can be used by students and teachers, such as:
- “Expected behaviors and unexpected behaviors”
- “Thinking with your eyes” (assess the situation)
- “Think it or say it?” (social filter development)
- “Just Me Thinking”
Elaina developed a variety of techniques, activities and materials to target social communication skills with students. (2018)