SMITHFIELD – JoCo Teach hosted a professional development event December 8th for program students and beginning teachers at Smithfield-Selma High School. Freebird McKinney (2018 NC Teacher of the Year), Maureen Stover (2020 Teacher of the Year), Julie Pittman (Teacher Advisor to the State Superintendent) and Tabari Wallace (2018 Principal of the Year) led current and rising educators through stories and strategies to help build relationships and engagement in the classroom.
JoCo Teach is a program that invests in and recruits diverse students seeking a degree as educators, providing a seamless pathway into the teaching profession. JoCo Teach students participate in co-teaching opportunities in local classrooms, attend regional and national teacher conferences, enjoy field trip experiences to high performing schools, and participate in paid internships for summer reading camps serving Johnston County Public Schools elementary students. They also take college level courses through Johnston Community College (JCC).
The professional development day began with teachers learning how to increase student engagement, which included using concentric circle conversations, gist summary activities, and discussion strategies. Participants learned how to help students feel welcome in the classroom by having students share the stories of their names. Participants were then tasked with creating a tower of notecards without talking. While discussing the activity, participants learned to help a class create a classroom contract that all students can support and follow.
In the afternoon, McKinney, Stover, and Pittman shared their own life stories and educational journeys. They impressed upon the participants that teachers can positively impact students’ lives and provide a vision for the future. The day concluded with a panel discussion where JoCo Teach students and new teachers got to ask questions to the leaders about how to improve student learning and engagement.