This past Tuesday, as our students enjoyed an extended weekend, BFS colleagues gathered for a day of powerful professional development. Together as a group for the first time since the start of school one month ago, all of the teaching and non-teaching colleagues filled the Pearl Street Meeting House excited for the start of what turned out to be an absolutely terrific day.
Suzie Matthews, Brooklyn Friends’ Assistant Head of School and the architect of the day, opened by stating the importance of why professional development days are so important. “When we think about the art of gathering, we should know why we are here,” she said, before unveiling four major purposes for the day. Those purposes include:
- Pausing normal work to reflect actively on the practices of teaching and learning, and how they align with our identity as a Quaker school.
- Connecting with others in multiple ways in order to expand perspectives and actively consider others views, solutions, and perspectives.
- Building and enhancing knowledge and skills, demonstrating a commitment to growing and developing professionally.
- Sharing our strengths with each other and contributing to the broader school community.
“I really encourage you to step in,” Suzie said, “and be more curious than certain.”
As the day got underway, it was clear that each and every colleague heeded Suzie’s words, as it was clear that no matter where you turned, the BFS colleagues were all in!
The first major part of the program was a presentation by three colleagues—Dr. AnaMaria Correa, Loreto Barranco, and Jamie Pine—who shared their personal stories while explaining the importance of the BFS colleague’s summer reading book, Liza Talusan’s The Identity-Conscious Educator. By weaving in their personal experiences, they showed that it was not only OK to show vulnerability, but it is—in fact—essential. In their exciting closing remarks, Dr. Correa shared with the colleagues that Liza Talusan will be visiting BFS to take part in colleague closing days in June.
Other key parts of the day included small workshops on topics, such as service learning, journaling, grading for equity, and examining the film, The Disruptors. There were also “joy activities,” such as knitting, improv, self-defense, and a community sing.
Colleagues also had the opportunity to hear from Melissa Providence, BFS’ new Director of Enrollment Management, about many exciting things going on in the world of enrollment and retention.
Non-teaching colleagues in the security, dining, facilities and maintenance, IT, and Finance teams, were enjoying a parallel experience throughout the day, with various training sessions.
Finally, the three additional summer reading options were discussed in smaller, facilitated groups. The three readings included: All About Love, by bell hooks; Beautiful Country, by Qian Julie Wang; and Music of Strangers, a musical documentary starring Yo-Yo Ma.
At the end of the fullest of days, BFS Head of School Crissy Cáceres expressed her true gratitude for what she witnessed throughout the day.
“I have to say that this is a day that I am going to process for some time to come,” she said. “I absolutely loved watching you give your absolute whole selves to this day in every way. There are so many “windows” that I got to peek into and I have to say what a privilege that I have in my role each day. … It is not a surprise that you were as stellar as I witnessed you to be, but the cohesion that I experienced and witnessed across every nook and cranny was really palpable.”
As is customary for our PD Days, it was closed with a meaningful Meeting for Worship.