P.S. 721R Hungerford School,
Staten Island, NY
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Professional development brings together teachers, paraprofessionals, specialists (speech, occupational and physical therapists), administrators, and parents in their efforts to provide optimum learning opportunities for students. At Hungerford, all instruction is focused on a common goal: "to guide students to their maximum potential and functional level by supporting their development of essential social, emotional, and academic skills." Over the past decade, the school has moved from a model based on limited expectations for special education students to one that actively supports students' transitions to the community and workforce. This common vision and purpose guide all professional development, teaching and learning activities.
Professional development planning is facilitated by annual needs assessments (in place since 1990). A continuous improvement model provides opportunities for individuals to identify and pursue professional development activities necessary to acquire the knowledge, skills, and abilities that will ensure desired student outcomes.
In order to sponsor professional development workshops without neglecting the special needs of students, the district employs full-time "replacement teachers". A staff member at the school is responsible for coordinating and scheduling the replacement teachers and other substitutes as needed, to allow teachers to take advantage of a variety of professional development experiences. When the professional development experience requires the teacher to be away from the school for more than a few days, the replacement teacher spends time in the classroom both before and after the teachers' absence to facilitate the transition.
There is strong union support for the school's professional development program and goals. The union representative and principal each independently confirmed the highly collaborative nature of the union/school relationship. Teachers' contracts provide for one professional development period each day.
A successful grant writing infrastructure has been established at the school to ensure access to additional outside resources. Two staff members have responsibilities for monitoring and responding to grant opportunities. Their efforts are supported by regularly-scheduled release time from classroom duties.
The Hungerford School works in partnership with the district, District 75, the Unified Federation of Teachers, community businesses and organizations, local colleges and universities. District 75 supports the school by identifying resources to promote professional knowledge focusing on high expectations, literacy, assessment, team-building, parent-involvement, conflict-resolution, positive behavior supports, and the use of technology.
Union supported Teacher Centers provide systematic ongoing professional education services to the teachers in our school. Staff members participate in Center activities to build collaboration, participate in training, share innovative teaching practices, and maintain high standards of accountability.
The school developed a school-based management planning team consisting of representatives from all constituencies in the school community. In forming the team, strong consideration was given to parent representation reflecting the student population.
A Professional Development Needs Assessment was conducted with the entire staff through the use of surveys/questionnaires, interviews/discussions, self reports, and records of activities. A School Comprehensive Education Plan was developed to address the professional development needs of staff and parents, and the instructional needs of students.
Staff self-assessment also provided information about implementation of instructional programs and the quality of instruction. District 75 developed rubrics that were used by our staff in self-assessment of three program practices: "Literacy Development", "Individualized Educational Plan Development", and "Use of Student Learning Assessments".
During 1997-1998, a priority for the school was comprehensive and sustained professional development for the instructional and support staff. A major focus of staff development for the 1996-1997 school year was literacy improvement. As a result of professional development opportunities in literacy skills development, staff set the following goals: integrating literacy with the arts, technology, school-to-work skills, identifying appropriate performance standards, increasing parent involvement, and formalizing collaboration of resources with regard to literacy. Based upon these goals, the school developed professional training programs in technological skills, arts education, and alternative assessment.
Site Visit Documentation
P.S. 721R, Hungerford School's success was recorded based on a site visit conducted by the National Awards Program for Model Professional Development in 1997:
Professional Development is supported through grants from the following: