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Nurture & Sustain October Update

By Keelan Wackman, Development Director

“We shared resources and best practices, discussed our varied experiences, and practiced techniques while working together in an intensely reflective setting.”

– River Campus Guide Kelly Dickens, who attended a summit on problem-based learning (PBL) for mathematics, hosted at Deerfield Academy by Dr. Carmel Schettino.

Professional development experiences not only give Headwaters faculty members the chance to improve their professional practice with concrete techniques that benefit students, but also provide valuable opportunities to be with colleagues, develop a supportive network, and refresh their commitment to education. Your support of the Nurture & Sustain Fund helps provide the resources the school needs for professional development.

Desire for Professional Development (PD) routinely outweighs available PD funds on each campus. Your gift today can provide the funding needed for these experiences. Donate now in support of Professional Development and your gift will be matched. Headwaters parent Jasen Trautwein is currently matching gifts of any size, dollar for dollar, up to $60,000.

In overseeing their professional development funds, each Program Head and Division Director is thoughtful and strategic about how to maximize these investments, recognizing that they have the potential to impact the staff as a whole and the experience of students in and out of the classroom for years to come. 

Kelly Dickens continues, “The techniques of PBL are widely recognized as pedagogically excellent, but can be difficult to implement without support from administrators and other educators. This summit brought together practitioners at similar grade levels from schools around the country. We came away with many useful resources that have informed teaching and curriculum across our high school math program.”

The value of deep discussions about particular areas of child development, learning, and school-keeping is felt immediately, but also has positive impacts that extend beyond thosefew days and the person who participates in a workshop or conference. On the Creek Campus, Virginia Luff makes sure that time is set aside in staff meetings for guides to share their learnings, present detailed information and materials from workshops, and discuss the particular ways that this new information can help everyone approach and advocate for the students we serve.

Yvonne Solorio attended the AMS course “Lives in the Balance: The Explosive Child,” which offered practical information that could be put to use in the classroom right away. Says Yvonne, “Professional development not only helps us to gain a deeper understanding of the children, we also return feeling enriched and refreshed. It is also very supportive and nourishing to engage with fellow educational colleagues from other schools near and far. We learn through the different perspectives that are shared by other guides and mentors.”

A gift of $500 to the Nurture & Sustain Fund enables a guide to attend a wide variety of local workshops and covers a sub for their class while they do. Often just $100 is needed from the professional development budget to allow the school to hire a sub so that a guide can observe in another class, visit another school, or participate in a webinar. Staff and supervisors alike are thoughtful and strategic about how limited professional development funds are spent each year, recognizing that we do not yet have the ability to allocate the same percentage of our operating budget to PD as more mature schools typically do. Online resources, slide decks that can be shared broadly, and time spent with mentors and master educators allow us to spread the annual budget really far.

Whether it is Montessori training, a training about conflict resolution, an Experiential Education Conference, a webinar about a new technology, a workshop about bringing social justice into the classroom, a new book about connecting more deeply with students, bringing an expert in to work with staff on a particular thing, or simply hiring a substitute; professional development funding is one way that we can show we value our guides as professionals and will support them in their journey toward mastery. Make a gift to the Nurture & Sustain Fund today and help sustain our PD budget this year. Stay tuned as we continue to share more stories and specifics about professional development at Headwaters. If you are interested in finding out more about areas of the budget that your contribution could positively impact, please reach out to me. We would love to further discuss what the greatest areas of need are, and what type of contribution could you can 

make that can catalyze meaningful progress.


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