Can you believe that we are halfway through the 2021-2022 school year? For many, this halfway point represents a fresh start. At the high school level, our students and teachers are beginning brand new classes and coursework. For many of our elementary and middle school students and teachers, the shift may not feel as dramatic, but the start of a new semester can still be a welcome shift and allow us to begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
The halfway point this week, also allowed our teachers some much-needed and well-deserved time to participate in professional development opportunities with their peers, finalize their term grades, and plan engaging learning experiences for the remainder of the year.
One recent PD opportunity provided our teachers and staff with the chance to learn and laugh together. The Chesapeake Educational Foundation sponsored the sixth installment of their Speaker Series in a virtual session on January 31, 2022, with kindergarten teacher and comedian Joe Dombrowski, better known as “Mr. D.” Mr. D became a viral sensation with an April Fool’s Day spelling test prank that caught the attention of celebrities, including Ellen DeGeneres.
Now, Mr. D. uses his platform to share his message about not only the challenges of being a teacher but also the rewards that always follow. In his one-hour session with over 350 of our teachers and staff members, he provided some humorous anecdotes from his classroom. More importantly, he hit on some big picture concepts that any teacher can connect and relate to.
His messages that “kids learn from experiences” and that “curriculum is the skeleton, the teacher’s job is to put the meat on the bones” clearly resonated with many of those in attendance. At the end of the session, the chat box was filled with messages of thanks and gratitude for the important reminder that the work we do as educators is important. In fact, I believe it’s never been more important. As Mr. D. reminded us, it’s important to the student with Down Syndrome, who needs the opportunity to experience independence. It’s also important to the student with behavioral challenges who needs the opportunity to experience some joy.
While these examples came from Mr. D’s classroom experience, I know these important moments happen each and every day across our district. Thank you to Mr. D for sharing his time and expertise with us this week, and thank you to our Chesapeake Educational Foundation for providing these important learning opportunities for our staff. Most importantly, thank you to our teachers for doing the important work you do. You’re halfway there!