The Newton Teachers Association announces the 2023-2024 recipients of its annual Charles E. Brown Professional Development Fellowship Awards, named for the renowned educator who served as Superintendent of Schools in Newton from 1960 to 1968.
The awards program provides support for the professional development the Association’s members by underwriting the cost of substitute teachers for recipients to pursue their projects outside the classroom. The following projects have received awards this year:
Project title: Linking Trauma Sensitivity and Mindfulness with Culturally Responsive Counseling/SEL
Educators Participating: Julie Gold, School Psychologist
Building(s): Williams Elementary School
Total number of days granted: 5
Purpose of Project: Nearly 2/3 of students experience varying levels of anxiety and depression. The research on anxiety and depression includes trauma perspectives, psychology, and diversity, which is vast and often inconsistent. The primary purpose of the project is to identify three trauma sensitive strategies that incorporate psychology and take into account a range of cultural perspectives that students can learn to assist with daily stress and/or mental health challenges throughout development.
Expected Outcomes: 1. A succinct toolbox of strategies that are trauma sensitive and incorporate diversity. 2. Further counseling and teaching practices in evidence-based strategies. 3. Reduce student stress, anxiety, and depressive symptoms. 4. Increase focus and attention on academic and social-emotional learning.
Project title: Researching the Relationship of the Ward and Underwood Families to Slavery in New England
Educators Participating: Andrew Guttell, Math Coach; Rachel Ritchie, 3rd grade teacher
Building(s): Ward and Underwood
Total number of days granted: 10 (5 per educator)
Purpose of Project: In the coming years, Underwood and Ward Schools may merge. This project will research the Ward and Underwood family histories in relation to slavery in New England. Were either of these families enslavers? Were they involved in the Abolitionist movement? How do these histories bear upon the naming of the current schools or a future merged school? How can these histories be brought into the classroom and engage students?
Expected Outcomes: A better understanding of the relationship of the Ward and Underwood families to enslavement and abolitionism in New England. As these schools may merge in the coming years, it is an appropriate time for us to consider the naming of the new school. This project will develop an evidence-based record to inform that conversation. This record will inform any community decision around school naming. In classrooms, students will consider how the stories of these Newton families relate to national historical and contemporary issues.
Project title: Incorporating Play-Based Centers into the Mathematics Classroom
Educators Participating: Jenna Ceddia, Thomas Joyce, Lynn Mullholland
Total number of days granted: 3 (two per educator)
Purpose of Project: The purpose of our project is to incorporate more play-based activities into each mathematics unit in order to foster and develop the skills, language, and cognitive development of mathematics with our Kindergarten students. We would add to the variety of activities students engage in during the math workshop with more centers that engage students through building and game-playing throughout the year in order to keep exposure to all mathematical strands consistent for students, thus developing more sustained knowledge in each area of mathematics for all students.
Expected Outcomes: By keeping exposure to different mathematical strands consistent throughout the year students will more fully understand mathematical concepts and sustain their mathematical understandings in all areas of mathematics. With careful consideration of the standards, students can be exposed to concepts earlier in the year allowing them to master the skills of a unit that falls more than halfway through the year and students can also continue their development of a skill once the unit has passed. Incorporating centers that have students building, creating, and playing will increase student enjoyment of mathematics, foster critical thinking, and develop positive growth mindsets in the area of mathematics. With more tangibly diverse math activities and more frequent touch points in all strands of mathematics we are hoping the need for math intervention is lessened.