Faculty and staffers from Brooklyn’s Montauk Intermediate School (I.S. 223) recently visited BMCC for Professional Development Day. According to Kathlyn Barrett-Layne, Assistant Principal at Montauk Intermediate, in the 2008-2009 academic year, her school contacted PENCIL—an organization that builds customized relationships between principals to inspire innovation and transform public schools—with a summary of its academic needs.
Coincidentally, BMCC President Antonio Pérez also had a connection to PENCIL—he applied to have BMCC partner with the organization, outlining his visions of how BMCC can help mentor and guide other schools in the community.
Building special partnerships
PENCIL brings schools together via a special partnership, such as the one established between BMCC and Montauk Intermediate. By bringing together the best ideas, resources and talent across sectors, PENCIL, which was founded in 1995, develops strong leaders, builds school capacity, enhances student learning, and inspires greater community and corporate support.
PENCIL has successfully mobilized thousands of business leaders to strengthen New York City's public schools. The PENCIL Partnership Program is a year-long commitment to collaborate across sectors and share best practices to transform public schools.
PENCIL’s Partnership Program has helped thousands of business and school leaders develop unique, school-based collaborations that have a lasting impact on the students, school community, and school culture.
Teachers teaching teachers
Earlier this year, President Pérez; Michael Gillespie, Associate Dean of Academic Affairs; and Angela Sales, Director of Community and Government Relations, visited Montauk Intermediate School and explored various ways they could help the Montauk faculty and students achieve their academic goals.
Sales and Gillespie then orchestrated Professional Development Day in conjunction with the BMCC Teacher Education Department. Montauk Intermediate’s Principal Andrew Frank and all his faculty members attended Professional Development Day, hosted by BMCC in the lower lobby of Theatre I.
After a welcoming breakfast, faculty from Montauk Intermediate had a plenary session then, were grouped into Breakout Sessions. Teacher Education instructors Rachel Theilheimer, Leslie Craigo and Jean Plaisir used handouts and presentations to help the Montauk teachers address the three academic areas at their school that needed the most attention.
Theilheimer led the plenary session: Curriculum and Mapping: One Way to Do It; Craigo led Breakout Session I: Reading in the Content Areas and Plaisir led Breakout Session II: Promising Pedagogy for the ELL Learner.
Pérez spoke at Professional Development Day about the importance of teaching. He grew up in Harlem and after a guidance counselor sadly told him he wasn’t “college material,” he turned to two high school gym teachers for support—Mr. Ross and Dr. Watts. “Your students come into this country with hopes and aspirations,” he said. “And they depend on your hopes and aspirations as well. It was that closeness I had with those two teachers in high school that made me believe in myself.”
Pérez said the process of learning has changed significantly over the years. “We need to find ways to embrace our changing world, especially with technology. Here at BMCC, we incorporate learning into social media and use it as a vehicle to communicate with our students academically.”
Students inspired by BMCC
After the day of learning and teaching concluded, Montauk faculty members were asked to fill out a feedback survey. Comments included: “Material is quite motivating,” "Presenter was very knowledgeable,” and 'BMCC staff extended great hospitality towards Montauk's staff.”
Although this was the first time faculty members from the two schools have come together, approximately 250 Montauk students have been to BMCC before—they took a field trip to see one of BMCC/Tribeca Performing Arts Center’s performances of a show called Black Violin.
The Montauk Intermediate students also met staffers from the BMCC Center for Career Development, who dressed up as fortune tellers and used the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) to find out the students' personality type code, and offer them advice on their career paths.
“The students absolutely loved Black Violin and the fortune-telling career session,” said Barrett-Layne. “They’re still talking about their time at BMCC. It was very inspiring for them.”
According to Barrett-Layne, the overall feedback from Professional Development Day was “amazing.”
Next semester, she says, at her school, there will more discussion and emphasis on certain issues that need to be addressed, especially when it comes to mapping (identifying core content and processes used in a curriculum for a variety of subjects in order to improve instruction), educating ELL students in content areas, and literacy.
Barrett-Layne looks forward to future collaborations with BMCC. “[Our school’s] been talking about having BMCC instructors and administrators take part in instructional rounds at our school and spend time working with our teachers in the classroom for a day.”