MINNEAPOLIS – (June 25, 2014) Whitewater Learning LLC, a Minneapolis-based provider of online professional development classes for educators, has signed a three-year, group- subscription deal with a consortium of five school districts in Goodhue County, Minn. The group subscription – the first of its kind for Whitewater – will allow the approximately 600 teachers and educators employed by the member districts of the Goodhue County Education District free access to the full library of Whitewater’s learning modules.
“It is challenging to meet the diverse professional-development needs of the combined staffs of Goodhue’s five member districts,” says Cherie Johnson, executive director for the Goodhue County Education District. “The Whitewater courses will provide relevant learning, including state continuing education credit for our licensed staff, delivered in a way that accommodates the needs of all of our staff members.”
The Blandin Foundation Community Broadband Program provided a $50,000 grant to support the group subscription investment by the Goodhue County Education District.
Whitewater Learning will custom-produce as many as six additional courses for Goodhue County schools, to help the districts meet needs they have identified as appropriate for their schools. Member school districts of the Goodhue County Education District are Cannon Falls, Goodhue, Kenyon-Wanamingo, Red Wing and Zumbrota-Mazeppa.
“Whitewater Learning is ideally suited to meet the professional-development needs of educators in non-metropolitan settings such as Goodhue County,” says Ann Zweber Werner, CEO and founder of Whitewater Learning. “All of our coursework is available online, for study and reflection, so educators can pursue their professional development interests at any time when they have Internet access.”
Goodhue County teachers and school administrators will immediately see the benefit of the Whitewater Learning subscription as a more convenient and cost-free means of taking courses to meet their state-mandated quota of 125 continuing education units (CEUs) over a five-year period. In Minnesota, school-administrator CEUs are approved by the Minnesota Board of School Administrators. Local professional-development committees certify continuing education credits for teachers. Whitewater courses are pre-approved for administrator CEUs, and the local staff-development committees have been accepting Whitewater courses for teacher CEUs.
Whitewater courses are all carefully evaluated by Werner herself, to make sure they meet local, state and federal standards. Werner has a slight edge in that regard: a lifelong educator, she formerly served as director of Licensing and Leadership Development for School Administrators at the University of Minnesota, in addition to serving 21 years as a school principal in Minnesota schools.
Teachers will also need more timely access to quality professional development courses because a new state law requires school districts to evaluate every teacher’s classroom performance. This will be useful for teachers whose evaluations reveal areas where additional skills and training are desired to improve their performance.
“Caring school districts such as those in Goodhue County don’t want to just tell their teachers they need to get better; they also want to help them improve,” says Werner. “With the Whitewater model, the districts can just point their teachers in the direction of the Whitewater website, where they’ll find those courses they need to improve their performance and maintain their teaching credentials.”
“Rural leaders know that connected communities are vibrant communities,” said Dr. Kathleen Annette, CEO of the Grand Rapids, Minn-based Blandin Foundation in a separate news release. “We are delighted to see Goodhue County Education District exploring innovative learning techniques, made possible by high-speed Internet, to improve the knowledge and skills of their teachers.”
With more than 50 classes now offered through its website – the ultimate goal is to have more than 100 courses available by 2016 – Whitewater Learning is establishing itself as the gold standard of online professional development courses for educators. Founded in 2011, Whitewater courses are available in subject modules that address critical issues and areas of educational expertise of importance to school administrators and teachers. Courses can be purchased either individually, or by subscription.
For more information on Whitewater Learning, go to www.whitewaterlearning.org.
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Contact: Ann Zweber Werner, Ph.D. Doug Hovelson
Whitewater Learning Big Thunder Public Relations