A high performing school district depends on educators and staff members who engage in continuous Professional Development. The North Adams Public Schools is committed to the creation and ongoing support of staff as a "community of learners." The purpose of high quality professional development is to enhance student learning by promoting increased knowledge, skill, and renewal of educators and other members of the educational community. Professional development promotes coherent, systemic approaches to improve teaching and continuous learning.
The Massachusetts Department of Education mandates that each licensed teacher and administrator create an individualized professional growth plan. Each teacher has an individual professional growth plan based on their personal goals for improving classroom instruction as well as aligning with the school improvement and district plan. This plan is a living document that reflects ongoing growth and development of each educator and focuses on the learning needs of all students. The plan is reviewed annually by the building principals and adjusted based on need.
Professional Development in North Adams is ongoing and is packaged in many different ways. The district has seven scheduled half days dedicated to professional development aligned with the district and school goals. In each school the principal allots additional time during faculty meetings, team meetings or department meetings for professional development. The scope of professional development is not limited to attending a workshop or participating in a lecture with a visiting expert. Professional development is collaborative in essence and embedded in daily practice. It involves collective inquiry toward improved teaching practices and student achievement. Professional development addresses the full scope of educators’ influence on students—instructional, affective, and curricular. New teachers are mentored by trained veteran teachers and receive ongoing support. All licensed teachers are also encouraged to participate in graduate courses at local colleges.
"You don’t need fancy highbrow traditions or money to really learn. You just need people with the desire to better themselves." (Adam Cooper and Bill Collage, Accepted, 2006)