Hundreds of Northwest Colorado educators participate in development day | CraigDailyPress.com

Hundreds of Northwest Colorado educators participate in development day

Ben Ingersoll

— Thousands of students from school districts across Northwest Colorado had Friday off but not their teachers.

Nearly 700 educators from seven school districts took part in the second Northwest Colorado Board of Cooperative Educational Services professional development day Friday at Steamboat Springs High School.

With help from co-coordinators Julie Dalke and Jane Toothaker, the BOCES professional development committee set up about 70 breakout sessions for educators and administrators from Hayden, South Routt, West Grand, East Grand, North Park, Steamboat and Moffat County. The sessions covered a variety of subjects from assessments in physical education to educator effectiveness.

Each session was led by teachers, administrators and, for the first time, Colorado Department of Education representatives. Operating under the 2013 theme "Collaboration, Literacy and Educator Effectiveness," participating teachers were given the chance to learn new teaching strategies, better understand current state initiatives and collaborate with one another.

"They get to interact with teachers from other districts that they might not see," Toothaker said. "They learn from each other, and the issues are all the same in the districts. They aren't that much different, but maybe they can do something to help each other."

Last year marked the first time BOCES assembled the event, and some noticeable changes were made. All six member districts were present in 2012, but this year Moffat County School District — a BOCES associate — also registered. Almost 300 more teachers took part this year.

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New BOCES Executive Director Amy Bollinger said the roughly $45,000 budget for the development day came from a state-funded professional development grant.

"Some of these districts may have one section, like one first-grade teacher or one math teacher," Steamboat Springs School District Superintendent Brad Meeks said. "But when you come here, now you're going to sit down with a group of people, and that sharing is refreshing. Now you have somebody you can bounce things off of and get ideas."

Meeks added that a critical element for the educators throughout the day was understanding state education initiatives, especially with Department of Education officials on hand to help.

Of the 20 BOCES groups across the state, the Northwest Colorado cooperative is the only one to host an event of this size and spectrum. In just two years, it has grown rapidly in popularity. Bollinger said a few of the sessions on the READ Act, English language literacy and physical education filled up in a matter of minutes when registration opened last month.

Perhaps the most popular item on Friday's agenda was the closing collaboration, during which participants were divided into groups by grade level or curriculum type to bounce ideas off one another.

"I was excited for this afternoon," Ridgeview Elementary School teacher Jennifer Stagner said. "We get to collaborate with other second-grade teachers from all over. You can always learn something."

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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