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Foundation Donors Send Teachers to National Convention

photo of teachers Jill Smith and Rachel Ries

Providing professional development opportunities for teachers and staff is one of the main tenets of the Foundation. Every year–thanks to our donors–we offer chances for educators to expand their knowledge base by learning from experts in their field. That was the case when East Grand Rapids Middle School English teachers Rachel Ries and Jill Smith were able to attend the National Council for Teachers of English Annual Convention thanks to a grant approved by the Foundation board last fall.

“Investing in teachers is investing in students,” Ries says.  “Providing teachers the opportunity to continue to grow professionally from the brightest and best in their content area is by far the most effective way to impact student learning.  In order to remain relevant and competitive as educators, we need to participate in continued learning and growth presented by experts in the field and perspectives outside of our community.”

That learning continues to be shared with students for years to come, according to Ries. “While students may not be aware of when they are directly benefiting from something as a result of teacher development, students love to hear the stories of how their teacher met this one famous author that they know and love - and we have the pictures to prove it!” Ries says. “Using catchphrases and anecdotes from these ‘rock stars’ is a surefire way to motivate students to utilize new strategies or incorporate a new way of thinking.  writing advice from Matt de la Pena is ultimately way cooler than anything some old middle school teacher ever came up with, and a book signed by Jerry Craft sure helps with street cred.”