Summer is a time of learning for Brookwood faculty

Thomasville Times-Enterprise, Staff Report
HOMASVILLE — Summer conjures up images of students sleeping in and teachers relaxing on the beach, but many Brookwood School faculty members spent time honing their craft and pursuing professional opportunities during the summer of 2019. “Our teachers have been hard at work this summer learning, growing, and preparing for the upcoming academic year,” remarked Brookwood’s Headmaster, Dr. Randy Watts. “I am proud of the time and energy that they have invested to further refine what they do and embody life-long learning.” Two Lower School faculty members attended institutes held by the Southern Association of Independent Schools. Ms. Danyelle Copeland, who has moved into the role of lead kindergarten teacher and Mrs.
Julia Taylor, who comes to Brookwood as a third-grade teacher after spending a decade teaching in Leon County, both attended institutes for teachers in independent schools.
“I wanted to have a better understanding of independent schools,” Taylor says of her motivation for the training, “and I also wanted to learn about the key differences between public and private schools so that I could be as prepared as possible for my new position at Brookwood.”
Four more Lower School faculty took advantage of a training on Orton-GiUingham, which is a dynamic and multisensory approach to teaching reading and spelling for students with a range of learning styles.
Kindergarten teachers Ms. Copeland and Mrs.
Mandi Cuevas, fourth grade instructor Mrs. Lisa Yestrumsky and Academic Resource Center teacher’s assistant Mrs. Jill Richardson all attended the training.
“We expect that Orton Gillingham will be used in a prescriptive and strategic fashion,” says Mrs. Jennifer Newcombe, Brookwood’s Lower School Director. “It will complement our new reading program, Benchmark Workshop, and serve as an additional tool to support our students.”
Mrs. Allison Harrell, the school counselor at Brookwood, chose to attend a Growing Leaders training called Habitudes. The curriculum, which emphasizes character and leadership development in students, will be used in Brookwood’s Middle School and ninth grade advisory groups.
“One of our goals at Brookwood is for all studentsto realize their potential as a leader,” Harrell says, “and this curriculum will be an avenue for our advisors to do just that.”
Harrell is also in charge of Brookwood’s implementation of the Darkness to Light program, which is a child sexual abuse prevention program.
This training “shines a light on a topic that we don’t like to talk about,” Harrell says. “It brings awareness and most importantly it protects children.”
Mrs. Mona Lewis, who returns to Brookwood to teach ninth grade English and yearbook after having previously taught at the school from 2001 to 2011, took three Brookwood students with her to a yearbook training offered by yearbook publishing company Josten’s.
“We focused on setting goals for the year,” Lewissaid. “This is Brookwood’s
50th year, so we wanted to focus on strategizing around honoring that anniversary while also keeping in mind that this yearbook will be for the graduating seniors, as well.” As part of Brookwood’s continuing focus on developing technology programs and using technology in the classroom, Mrs. Sara Wagoner, a history teacher and Academic Resource Center specialist, earned the Certified Educator Level 1 from Google over the summer.
“As our students gain more knowledge and are required to use more technology I would like to be able to teach and prepare lessons that harness the power of every student in class having a MacBook,” Wagoner said.
English and history teacher Rev. Wallace Marsh went to St. Francisville, Louisiana to attend a conference of authors and readers focused on the work of novelist Walker Percy “The overarching theme for the conference was the importance of community and hospitality,” Marsh says. “I went to the conference to learn more about Percy’s writings and better ways to present these complex themes to my students.”
Finally, the entire teaching faculty participated in ongoing professional development in curriculum mapping during pre-planning week.
“The ultimate goal of curriculum mapping is to best serve our students with structured, organized, clear, and thoughtful curriculum,” Watts said. “This process has supported our faculty in thinking deeply and critically about their own teaching. Further, the collaboration with colleagues in meaningful conversation has helped to create the strongest possible classroom experiences for our students.”
Overall, 100 percent of Brookwood’s faculty are certified Apple Teachers, certified in Darkness to Light, and have received extensive training in curriculum mapping.
“We are ready to take on a great school year with top-notch teachers in all of our classrooms,” Watts said.
Located in Thomasville, GA, Brookwood School is a private school for grades JK-12. Students benefit from a challenging academic program, fine and performing arts, competitive athletics, and a wide selection of extracurricular activities.