My Time in Springdale...

Through the months of January and February, it felt like I almost moved in with the Springdale School District. During these two months, I was able to spend 12 full training days with just over 100 Springdale administrators and instructional facilitators ranging from PreK through Middle School. During this training, a few things stood out to me about this group that I have felt compelled to share.

First, I praise these leaders in their district for the dedication to the learning and to their students throughout the training. As a professional development trainer, I see many groups and various participant profiles emerge. You have the genuinely interested, the authentic learners, the ones you have to win over, and the ones who are basically punching a time-clock because someone is requiring that they attend. Day by day, I was struck by the very large percentage of truly engaged learners who wanted to know more about the science of reading and who wanted to adjust and update their instructional practices. Each visit, I had the pleasure of hearing stories from their schools where they were trying these new things and looking into their current practices. It was refreshing to say the least.

Shared responsibility also stood out to me from this group. I knew walking in that each day would be approximately half administrators and half instructional facilitators. I did not know which participants served in which role, and it was a new experience for me not to be able to tell. The teamwork and curricular knowledge between these groups flowed as they sat together and worked together. Privately, I spent the discussion times trying to figure out (without looking or asking) which role each participant played in their school. I have to say… I was not always accurate. When principals and facilitators function as a team, it is such a blessing to their students.

Thinking back to this place and this training, I can’t help but smile at the activities that were planned for the group. Beginning and ending with five minutes of fun, planned by an administrator, set such a positive tone. From cheers to themed clothing, awards to game shows, and even a whole script incorporating every brand of deodorant out there (and some I still think might be made up), the group went out of their way to start each day in an engaging, community-building activity. (Thanks Maribel) The group surprised me at the end with a Marshallese farewell ceremony which showered me with thanks and kindness— not to mention enough Sonic cards to feed my Diet Dr. Pepper habit for a couple weeks. (For those of you who are wondering, yes, I have used the pizza pan holster in class.)

Springdale, you left your mark on me during our time together. You are an impressive group. Megan and Linda, thanks for inviting me to come. I very much look forward to working with many of you again this summer in various workshops.

I guess there’s not much else to say other than… BRAINSread, and Springdale Leads!

-Leeann Howard

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Springdale Leads!