On-Demand Professional Learning

Professional learning never stops, and for Knox County’s third through sixth-grade teachers, it was available on-demand.

The topic was “On Demand Writing Prompts” for attendees on Tuesday as they learned from experts Abell and Atherton.

“Principals and teachers had expressed the need for a quality writing training and I was excited that we could address that need,” said Stacy Imel, Director of Professional Learning.  “We are thrilled to have been able to bring Abell and Atherton to the district. ”

Sylvia Abell brought a wealth of classroom and training experience to share with Knox County.  With 27 years as a highly effective English teacher for Butler County High School and adjunct faculty member for WKU, seven years’ experience as co-director of the Western Kentucky University Writing Project, and three years as a Writing Consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education, she has, for the past ten years, provided quality professional development for thousands of Kentucky teachers and administrators.

Co-presenter Debby Atherton held successful positions as an elementary, middle, and high school principal before retiring and going on the road to support teachers. Before her tenure as principal of Bullitt East High School, Ms. Atherton served as a Director of Secondary Education, a District Assessment Coordinator, and Regional Science Consultant for the Kentucky Department of Education.  Ms. Atherton was honored with the Louisville Writing Project’s Patrona Award for her support of the teaching of writing.

“This training was very engaging and the presenters were very complimentary of our teachers,” said Imel. “I’m excited to see how what they learned will be implemented at each of our schools and how our students will benefit from it!”

Teachers in attendance agree with Imel, citing the tools and resources that they will be able to take back into their classrooms.

“The strategies we learned for teaching audience awareness will be very beneficial for students,” said Tabitha Wagers. “They’re simple to plan and implement but will have a tremendous impact on our students’ writing.”

Activities planned by Abell and Atherton allowed the teachers to discuss characteristics of effective writing through the analysis of paragraph structures.

“The tools we acquired for teaching paragraph structures were also very useful. The templates are simple and will make it much easier for students to understand how to develop their ideas,” shared Wagers.  “I love that every strategy and tool from Abell and Atherton is quick and simple but highly effective.”

Teachers are challenged to go back to their school and share what they learned through professional learning communities and one-on-one discussion.

Principals also expressed great appreciation for the opportunity to bring Abell and Atherton to the district.  Eric Hubbard, principal of Central Elementary, said that the strategies and tools that teachers learned will “help improve writing across the content areas in our schools and our On Demand writing scores.”