May 16, 2007 Edition

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Summertime is busy time at co-op

Sherry Moore
Guest Writer

"Summertime, and the living is easy" ... maybe so, but it is the busiest time of the year at the Northeast Arkansas Education Cooperative.

They are rushing to provide professional development for local educators from member schools in Lawrence, Randolph, Greene, Clay, Sharp and Jackson counties.

In July 2005, the current Arkansas Department of Education Rules Governing Professional Development were put into action. Their purpose was to develop a high quality professional development system for all educational administrators, teachers and certified instructional support personnel, which would in turn increase student achievement. The educational cooperatives across the state are the major providers of this 60-hours-per-year professional development requirement.

Prior to the 2005-2006 school year, educators were only required to have 30 hours of open-ended professional development or in-service. The new law outlined specific requirements, such as technology and parental involvement to be included in the 60-hour total.

A typical day of in-service yields six hours of professional development credit. Therefore, two complete work weeks are necessary to meet the minimum requirements. Many teachers, including career and technical educators, actually have extended contracts and must supplement the basic requirement.

It would take the entire edition of this paper to describe all of the workshops available at the co-op in June, July and August. On any given day during the summer, it is not unusual to find each of the five meeting rooms filled to capacity. In addition, larger audiences will participate in multiple co-op sponsored events in Batesville, Paragould and Searcy.

Topics range from the traditional 3 R's, (reading, writing and arithmetic) to music, art, filmmaking and absolutely everything in between. They are presented by classroom teachers, community leaders, co-op employees, college professors and nationally known speakers. Presenters come from right here in Walnut Ridge and as far away as California, Washington, D.C., Colorado Springs and Atlanta.

Trainings are conducted in a number of ways, including traditional classroom methods, as well as through the use of cutting edge technology and actual tours of industry. Computers are a common medium for specific software training and on-line interactive teaching strategies. Some workshops are accessed through broadcasts from other cooperative locations across the state via CIV or distance learning.

Although most workshops are designed for specific content-areas, many are comprehensive. Some, such as the popular Dyslexia training are open to any interested party. There is usually no cost for employees of member schools; however, a non-member fee is required for all other participants.

As summer approaches, keep in mind that teachers don't really "have the summer off." They are busy preparing for the next school year, doing their best to develop interesting, motivating and challenging lessons for their young students.

For more information on any of the approximately 200 sessions, call the co-op at 870-886-7717. Teachers are reminded to register on-line at: http://thor.nesc.k12.ar.us.

(Note: This series of columns will be written by different employees of the NEA Educational Cooperative to inform the public about the services provided by the co-op.)

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