Lorain County School Districts Work To Enhance Classroom Environment

More than 450 Oberlin and North Ridgeville school district staff members engaged in a Common Professional Development Day on Oct. 11 at the North Ridgeville Academic Center, 34620 Bainbridge Road.

Professional Development Day is meant to provide staff with opportunities to improve in specific practices that will enhance the learning environment in classrooms and school, according to Moira Erwine, director of professional development and curriculum and Instruction at the Educational Service Center of Lorain County.

The Education Service Center collaborated with State Support Team Region 2, Lorain County Board of Mental Health and Lorain County Public Health to provide a day of learning along with a Vendor Fair, which will further offer connections to agencies to support students and families.

Staff members began a day full of exercises with a presentation lead by Dr. Stephen Sroka, internationally recognized motivational speaker, award winning educator, author and consultant.

Staff applauded and laughed with Sroka as he shared how his life stories have made him the educator and individual he is today. He discussed his more than 40-year experience in education in Cleveland and how it showed him the importance of forming relationships with students and their families go a long way.

Sroka shared it's great that school districts and their staff can come together to develop more tools, that not only focus on a student's education, but more importantly, their happiness, health and safety.

"I think many of us have realized a safe and healthy kid learns more and lives better," he said. "We have to think about what schools are really about. It's not just teaching the academics, but the mental, physical, social and emotional.

"It's really good to come to (an event) like this and have everyone come out. I normally do training for administrators, but you need everyone here to learn and work together."

Staff then spent the remainder of the day in three selected exercises out of more than 20, which were broken into three sessions throughout the day.

Some of the exercise topics include: HOPE Curriculum - overview of the opioid crisis; Trauma Informed Strategies in the Classroom; Yoga 4 Classrooms; How to Manage Chronic Conditions in Students; Culturally Responsive Teaching; Cyber Bullying and Social Media; and Preparing for Post School Success.

Staffers also engaged and participated in activities to better understand how to incorporate the exercises into their classrooms in order to follow the theme of the day: Move Beyond the Whole Child.

The approach is an effort to transition from a focus on narrowly defined academic achievement to one that promotes the long-term development and success of all children, according to the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

The Supervision and Curriculum Development association is known as ASCD, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that represents more than 114,000 educators from more than 127 countries, including 57 affiliate organizations, according to its website.

Educational Service Center of collaborates with the Supervision and Curriculum Development association, which helps educators, families and policymakers move from a vision about educating the whole child to sustainable, collaborative action.


Strategic plan

The Educational Service Center based its exercises off of requirements of the Ohio Department of Education's Strategic Plan for Education from 2019-2024.

The requirements include: reaching one goal of increasing the annually percentage of high school graduates who one year after, are enrolled and succeeding in a post-high school experience; serving in the military; earning a living wage; or engaging in a meaningful or self-sustaining vocation.

The state's education department also requires schools to reach core values, acquire at least 10 priority strategies for students and have at least four learning domains.

Erwine said providing Oberlin and North Ridgeville school districts with an opportunity to collaborate and learn together, specifically around social emotional learning, is what the county service center wanted to focus on in the state's strategic plan.

"Ohio Department of Education has a statewide strategic plan that shows that (social emotional learning) is as important as academic learning," she said.

Carrie Helling, a preschool teacher at North Ridgeville's Early Childhood Learning Community, said she enjoyed the information Sroka provided and was excited to participate in the exercises on mindfulness and brain-based learning strategies.

"I like to learn and keep up on the latest things going on (in education)," Helling said. "In our job, mindfulness is one of the biggest things we focus on."

She said it's nice to see people in other districts and participate with them in a day of engagement.

Education Service Center has offered Professional Development Day to eight districts in the past, and will continue with some of them Nov. 5, Erwine said.

Those districts are Clearview, Columbia, Keystone, Firelands and Wellington.

To see more on Ohio Department of Education's strategic plan, visit www.education.ohio.gov/About/Ohios-Strategic-Plan-for-Education