Episcopal strongly believes in investing in its most important asset -- its faculty and staff. Faculty and staff are encouraged to attend professional development opportunities across the country throughout the year. In addition to continuing to pursue certifications and higher degrees, Episcopal’s faculty engages in ongoing professional development opportunities offered through the University of North Florida, the Florida Council of Independent Schools and conferences on pedagogy. Teachers have attended field-specific training as well, including the United States Institute for Theatre Technology, the Percussive Arts Society International Convention; AP workshops; Econ in the Real World; and Hamilton, History and the Federal Reserve.
“If, as a school, we aim to nurture life-long learners, then teachers must model it for their students. Look around and you will see a faculty committed to continued growth,” says Marta Pauly, Dean of Faculty & Academics. “We do it in a variety of ways– by engaging in group book studies, by sharing information and techniques we learn from workshops and conferences, by collaborating with colleagues about the best way to teach a subject matter or unit, by engaging in conversations that afford us the chance to reflect on how and why we teach, and by sharing ideas about ways to serve our students better. There is an energy that comes from bonding with colleagues who share common aspirations. That energy is palpable and, in the end, creates a culture conducive to growth and learning.”
Professional Development Activities
Faculty and staff participated in Cultural Competency and Civil Discourse training in August during professional development before the start of school. Presenters from UNF's Department of Diversity Initiatives hosted small group discussions on Cultural Competency for faculty and staff, covering such topics as the difference between diversity and inclusion, equality and equity.
The discussion groups had a chance to reflect on and share the extent to which the Episcopal community has embraced both diversity and inclusion in our effort to "respect the dignity of every human being." Similarly, participants explored affirming language, and completed a "What Next?" activity. Facilitators for the discussion were Sheila Spivey, Senior Director of the Department of Diversity Initiatives (DDI) at the University of North Florida, and Brandi Winfrey, Associate Director of the DDI at the University of North Florida, who leads the Intercultural Center for Peace and the Student Alliance for Inclusion and Diversity.
Civil Discourse training was provided to faculty before the start of school by Kyle Reese and Nancy Broner from OneJax, an interfaith organization on the UNF campus. A small group of ESJ teachers were trained in advance to act as facilitators of discussion small groups for all faculty and staff. As part of this community-wide education, participants learned how best to engage in a conversation or dialogue in order to better understand another person, as well as how to actively listen to someone with different opinions. The Civil Discourse Team put together some Community Norms to serve as a toolbox for healthy, productive, civil conversations in and out of the classroom.