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Concordia educators attend training session

NATCHEZ — Two days prior to what many called “the big show,” 99 percent of the Concordia Parish School District staff gathered in a show of unity at the Vidalia Conference and Convention Center.

The approximately 425 faculty and staff members were present Tuesday, and will return today, for workforce training before classes start Thursday.

“I had forgotten about some of the strategies we have talked about,” Vidalia Upper Elementary Teacher Amanda Hill said. “This conference helps jog the brain of ideas.”

For the fourth year in a row, Director of Academic Programs Paul Nelson said the teachers were allowed to pick, through a survey, the topics to be discussed at the mandatory workforce development meetings.

“Before, it ended up where some teachers would, for example, say, ‘I wish I had learned more about technology,’” Nelson said. “Having the survey lets them learn about things they are more interested in.”

This year, facilitator Deborah Childs-Bowen led a discussion on developing vocabulary, and facilitator Cheryl Love led a discussion on gearing lessons and activities to get the most out of a child’s brain.

Mary LeBlanc, a Ferriday High School Teacher, was participating in the vocabulary discussion Tuesday.

“She was talking about a way to use a student’s prior experiences and knowledge to help teach vocabulary,” LeBlanc said. “I thought it was great — very enlightening.”

Hill, who teaches fourth grade, was participating in the discussion on gearing lessons and activities toward how the brain learns.

“I had forgotten how much music helps with memory,” Hill said. “For example, clapping out syllables.

“I’ll use music in my classroom this year.”

Kelvin Lyons, a behavior interventionist who works in the district, said the meeting would help him develop ways to help students perform better.

“The sessions have been quite helpful in providing information to help in reaching the children,” Lyons said. “It will give me an opportunity to effectively communicate with the children.”

The teachers who were in the discussion about gearing lessons toward how brains learn Tuesday will attend the vocabulary discussion today and vice versa.

Nelson said when the district comes back from its winter break, the district will have a workforce development meeting focusing on technology and working with children in poverty.

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