Neumann University charges the district a flat rate for an unlimited amount of credits, allowing the district to provide teachers participating in the Academy as attendees with three graduate credits or professional development credits.
A keynote speaker is also chosen to address the Academy on the first day of sessions, and throughout the years has included many notable speakers from both the business sector as well as noted higher education professors.
Teachers interested in joining the Academy must first apply for the week-long training; however, all teachers interested are accepted.
The Academy, which divides teacher participants by school and grade/subject taught (not by knowledge-level) and lasts from 8 AM to 3 PM every day, is divided into a 4-class roster that every teacher cycles through. Afternoon time is designed specifically for peer collaboration.
“What made the Academy even remotely feasible in terms of budget was planning far in advance,” said Sanfrancesco. “The first Academy we held spanned once a week every summer for three years [2007-2010]. By spreading the Academy out, by not making it one giant hit, we were able to use the money already allotted in the district’s budget. And since it’s tied to staff development, it makes it even easier.”
Sanfrancesco explained that teachers not already in the Academy in year one could jump in any time throughout the three-year roll-out, since no session in the Academy really has an entry-level course.
“The idea of the Academy is to teach by doing,” explained one of the Academy’s first teacher coaches, Kevin Windsor, a fourth-grade teacher. “Though we explain the basics of the technology, we expect peers to help each other figure out other less challenging aspects of the technology.”
The technology chosen for the Academy, said Windsor, depends on what the teachers say they’d like to learn. Examples include SMART Boards, Student Response Systems, digital storytelling, video conferencing, movie-making, Google Education Apps, and iPads.
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