This month, we had the opportunity to do something we rarely get to do: gather every Apple team member together for a school-wide professional development event (PDDs are held three times per year).
We want to fill you on what we did that day, what we learned from it, and how events like this promote teamwork, build skills and knowledge, and reignite our passion to always do our best for our students.
Beginning our day in an auditorium with a team of close to 500 strong really made an impact as we were able to see ourselves as a part of something bigger.
Family owned Apple Montessori Schools is operated by the Bailey’s family’s second generation of four sisters. Professional Development Day gave them a special opportunity to share their insights and experiences to connect us with the history of the institution.
Apple’s president, Joanne Mooney, reminded us that her parents founded the first Apple school 45 years ago after being disappointed with the lack of quality educational options for their own children. She gave an inspirational address to the audience that emphasized the important role the staff plays in helping Apple families and bringing the school’s principles, values, and mission statement to life.
Mrs. Krippner shared how her family, the students, and the staff at Apple Montessori are what drive her every day. Mrs. Piccolo shared a moving and heartwarming story about her experience as an Apple teacher. In particular, she recalled a struggling student named Matthew. Remembering what her mother always taught her, she gave him her best to bring out his best. And it worked: Matthew later became a successful biochemist.
Keynote Speaker: Author and Education Expert, Vernon Mason Jr.
The keynote speaker for the event was the author, education expert, and early childhood administrator Vernon Mason Jr. In his funny and encouraging talk, “Persevere through with Laughter,” Mason noted that teachers have an incredible ability: discovering and encouraging the greatness in every child. That’s why a teacher’s job, although challenging at times, is always rewarding. As he summarizes it: “Will you go home exhausted? Absolutely. Will your hearts be full? Absolutely.”
Our team attended a series of engaging workshops that began with reflecting on all the reasons we love what we do – whether with the children, our parents, our coworkers, the Montessori method, or our roles. The workshops provided us with new skills to bring to our work, new methods and techniques to use in the classroom, and new perspectives on the professional challenges we face.
The workshops also highlighted the fact that we had all come together for the event by encouraging us to engage in team-building exercises. These exercises require the participants to cooperate to accomplish challenges. They’re a fun way to not only help the teachers and other staff work together but also give them tools for improved and effective communication.
Bridge of Books Donation
Finally, gathering together was also a chance for us to do our part in spreading education throughout the wider community. Apple Montessori has partnered with the Bridge of Book Foundation to encourage literacy in the state by providing books to underserved children throughout New Jersey. Team members each brought a book to the event to be donated to the project.
We consider Apple to be a community made up of our staff, students, and their families. But with nearly 500 staff members, it’s easy for us to get clustered into smaller groups and forget the bigger picture. These school-wide events help reinforce our sense of community and give us a powerful reminder that we are all working together to provide the best education we can for your children. Events like February’s Professional Development Day strengthens our school’s spirit and we bring that energy and enthusiasm into the work we do every single day in the classroom.
What we love about what we do…