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Public school teachers take part in skills training

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The school year is just six days away, and while students are enjoying the last week of sun and play, dedicated educators took time out of their summer vacation to voluntarily participate in a three-day teacher development training session.

Hundreds of teachers filled seats at the Hyatt Regency Ballroom on Tuesday afternoon for Day Two of a professional development training opportunity hosted by the Department of Education. Superintendent Jon Fernandez said, "It's really fascinating for me to see all these teachers here coming on their own time and they're coming before the school year starts so it really indicates the energy, it indicates the type of commitment that they have to see our students succeed."

Monday's training focused on instructional strategies, with today's topic covering assessments, and Wednesday's instruction focusing on technology in the classroom. "We've purchased a lot of equipment, laptops, boards, projectors and so forth but it's really not about the equipment it's about how we're going to use it - use this equipment to access the internet and to be able to integrate it into the teaching and into the instruction that goes on for all of our students," he said.

Adacao Elementary School curriculum coordinator Dr. Carla Aguon said teacher training has steadily improved over the past five years, saying, "It's constantly changing, there are so many different things that we need to keep up with, so if there are specific strategies that are out there that are going to increase student achievement and we need to make sure we address those specific strategies, do whatever we need to do within our classrooms to make sure we do what we need to do to help close that achievement gap."

Teacher assistants, substitute teachers, and other DOE staff will also undergo training this week in preparation for the coming school year. "We had a special board meeting last night and my report to them was that we have about 25 classroom slots that are waiting to be filled, we have about 26 applicants so we're pushing forward to make sure every classroom has a teacher in place by Day One," said Fernandez.

While DOE officials are still tackling critical maintenance issues, including a massive drive to remove debris and surveyed equipment out of school campuses, Fernandez said all 41 schools are expected to be ready come the first day of school on August 17.

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