Despite the impromptu two-day winter wonderland pause this week, the faculty at SMUS spent Thursday afternoon engaged in learning and collaboration while our students headed into the long Family Day weekend.

Although the professional development days are few and scattered across the calendar, they are an essential ingredient in our learning culture. We know that when faculty learn together and continue to strengthen their skills, it has a direct and positive impact on the education and support we provide our students. It's important for the environment of the school that learning extends and emanates to all. From students to faculty and across the school, the message is: "this is a place where learning happens for all."

So, what does professional development at SMUS look like? As for students, we strive to diversify the learning experiences for our faculty. These include: planning and sharing with other SMUS colleagues, on-campus workshops provided by external experts and organizations, as well as attending external conferences or intensives and networking with other educators outside of SMUS. An upcoming example of an intensive is that our Grade 1 team, Lynn Porteous and Jennifer Smith, recipients of our annual Head of School’s Professional Development Award, will attend an intensive in March in Reggio Emilia, Italy. One exciting indicator of our expertise is that in recent years, we have increasingly had more of our own faculty invited to present at external workshops through CAIS, NAIS, ISABC and the Ministry of Education.

In future professional development days, our faculty will also have the opportunity to learn from organizations like Future Design School and PBL Consulting in customized workshops as we consider how we design engaging and rigorous learning experiences for our students.

It's also important to say "thank you" to our donors to the Annual Appeal, which continues to provide additional support for professional learning in a variety of areas including Reggio Emilia and Lindamood-Bell Instruction Strategies for Reading and Comprehension.

We believe in lifelong learning for all and the value that it provides in our classrooms and beyond. For me personally, it is also affirming to work with educators who thirst for learning experiences and growth opportunities amid the great work they do with our students.