One educator at EdLeaders Pittsburgh’s joint in-service day said she found a couple of professional development sessions that helped her refresh her skills with Individual Educational Plans (IEPs).
Another said a session about Steel Valley School District’s PBIS (Positive Behavior Interventions & Supports) strategy gave her ideas for improving her own district’s approach.
Their experiences “were exactly what the day was intended to do,” said Consortium Program Director Gina Barrett who helped pull together some 35 different workshops.
“Holding a joint-in service makes it possible for so many educators to learn best practices from peers and find out about community resources that they can tap for their classrooms,” Barrett said, noting that the event was modeled on one the Consortium organized for many years called Journey to Learn.
Woodland Hills High School hosted the event, which drew some 700 educators. In addition to the workshops, the joint in-service featured a keynote address from Gregg Behr, The Grable Foundation’s Executive Director and founder of Remake Learning, as well as a panel discussion among superintendents from participating school districts.
Among community organizations presenting their programs, Industrial Arts Workshop discussed how it uses metal art to interest students in welding. In addition to afterschool and summer programming, the Hazelwood-based nonprofit has a Mobile Welding Lab it takes to schools.
Another organization, Students-in-Action, showcased the work it does to support students in service learning.
“Those are just a couple examples—there were lots of others,” Barrett said. “Our region offers so much support and so many hands-on resources for helping students develop skills or apply what they’re learning in their classrooms.”
Behr, who started Remake Learning as a network for organizations and educators devoted to creating innovative learning experiences for students, said Pittsburgh has been on the leading edge of child development and helping children develop creativity and passion ever since the Arsenal Family & Children’s Center brought together luminaries like co-founders Benjamin Spock and Margaret McFarland, a child psychiatrist who became a lifelong mentor to Fred Rogers.
Through his television show, Rogers encouraged kids to explore their feelings and their creativity, Behr said. Whether Rogers was demonstrating popsicle stick craft projects, or hosting stars like Julia Child or Yo-Yo Ma, he helped kids see “the joy of their passions.”