Rutherford County Schools’ Summer Summits Prep Teachers For New School Year

Andrea Bontempi, ESL Specialist, leads a small group session during the middle school summit being held at Rocky Fork this week


Rutherford County Schools’ Summer Summits, a professional development opportunity and meeting place for new and veteran teachers, kicked off yesterday at Rocky Fork Middle with an event aimed at middle school teachers and administrators.

The summits will continue next week with similar events for elementary and high school educators.

With a new school year right around the corner, the summits are an opportunity for teachers to collaborate and share ideas across the district.

“The purpose is to provide professional development opportunities,” said Barbara Powers, RCS middle school coordinator. “Research shows teachers are the single most important factor in a child’s learning achievement. When our students succeed, we succeed.”

Approximately 150 participants attended the middle school summit at Rocky Fork Middle, with a second day of sessions taking place today. According to Powers, planning for the summit began in January with a committee made up of district level instructional staff, administrators and instructional coaches.

The Summer Summits provide teachers with up to 12 hours of professional development credit while also giving new teachers a chance to anticipate the needs of students in the upcoming school year.

“It’s been very beneficial and helpful, especially as a first-year teacher,” said Sable Rigsby, first year science teacher at Siegel Middle. “I’ve been learning what to expect going in and learning how best to support myself and my students.”

Veteran teachers are also given the chance to refresh themselves and connect again before the new year begins. Mike Sbarra, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Smyrna Middle, will be serving his fourth year with RCS.

“I think we’re so busy during the school year that opportunities like [the summits] give us a chance to reflect on the past year,” Sbarra said. “We can meet with teachers from other schools to share ideas and gain comradery.”

Cross-district communication and sharing of ideas creates an atmosphere of growth and reflection, participants said, and professional development is an ongoing pursuit.

“Anytime you can help with the professional development of teachers is great. By this point teachers have had five or six weeks to reflect on the last year, but they’re also getting excited about the new school year,” Director of Schools Dr. Jimmy Sullivan said. “We have two weeks before students arrive — our teachers can take all of the amazing things they’ve learned and apply them to the new year.”

Teachers return to schools on Monday, Aug. 1 and students will begin the year with a two-hour day on Friday, Aug. 5. The first full day of school for students is Monday, Aug. 9.

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