Sierra Vista pays tribute to its campus heroes

Teachers in superhero capes add sticky notes with discussion topics on them to a "parking lot" during a professional development day with a superhero theme on Monday, August 7, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s dozens of Sierra Vista Junior High School teachers dressed as Superman!

Draped in capes of Superman and Batman, teachers and staff members from Sierra Vista gathered in the school’s multipurpose room (MPR) Monday to take part in the first superhero-themed professional development day.

“In years past it’s been more lecture-based and we would talk in small groups,” eighth grade teacher Brianna Mowry said.  “This is more interactive.”

“It gets us excited about the school year,” fellow eighth grade teacher Kellie Kontis followed.

The all-day professional development followed the theme that “SV Heroes Make a Difference,” highlighting the impact teachers and staff make on their students every day.

Sierra Vista Junior High School Principal Carolyn Hoffman and her administrative staff went all out, decorating the MPR into a scene from Gotham City with cookies in the shape of superhero symbols, chocolate gold coins on top of a table near Gotham City Bank, tables full of superhero memorabilia and more.

“We want to share how much we appreciate them,” Hoffman said.  “They go above and beyond for all of our students so it’s our turn to go above and beyond for them.”

All summer the administrative team planned out the professional development day, created superhero-themed activities and created arts and crafts to display to the staff.

The MPR even included a table for “ACE Chemicals” complete with colorful test tubes, beakers full of dry ice and cookies decorated with scientific symbols and molecules.

Carolyn Hoffman, principal of Sierra Vista Junior High, adds more dry ice to colored water in beakers during a professional development day with a superhero theme on Monday, August 7, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

“We had so much fun this summer creating this,” Hoffman said of her fourth year planning the school’s professional development days.

On the academic side, the professional development worked on achieving the school’s and district’s four goals for the upcoming school year: technology, cultural competency, academic success for all students and support for special education students.

“Cultural competency is huge for us this year to get to know ourselves and how we work with others,” Hoffman said.

To determine their staff “cape colors,” each teacher completed a personality test to determine if they fit the blue, green, orange or gold cape colors that also aligned with the personalities of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and Captain America.

“They filled out a personality test to find their color descriptor code for personalities to see how they perceive themselves and how others see them,” Hoffman said.  “We learned about how our greatest strengths can be our biggest constraints at the same time.”

Courtney Lacenda hands out “clues” to the next assignment to Sierra Vista Junior High teachers during a professional development day with a superhero theme on Monday, August 7, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

Following the personality tests, six grade-level teams—called Pioneers, Majestic Mountaineers, Gold Rush, Spurs, Trailblazers and Rangers—competed to finish the “SCV Superhero Amazing Race.”

Teachers and staff members had to work together to finish activities like moving a “kryptonite ball” into safe area with coat hangers and paper clips, solving clues in The Riddler’s Room and writing down affirmations for their teammates.

“Everything they’re doing with the activities has an NGSS component to it,” Hoffman said of the school’s push toward the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  “Today’s training will teach the staff about the five E’s of NGSS.”

During their professional development, the teachers will also create their own NGSS classroom activities, review each year’s California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress (CAASPP) data and collaborate across subject areas and grade levels.

“With PD [professional development] we’re trying to model what we want them to do with the students,” Hoffman said.  “We want them to be facilitators… When you have activities you remember it more.”

The teachers and staff said they appreciated the opportunity to participate in team building exercises, act dorky and work together to get the year off to a great start.

“They know me, they trust me, they know I want them to do what is needed to support the kids,” Hoffman said.  “We want to get our teachers excited for the school year.”

Seirra Vista Junior High teachers work on an assignment during a professional development day with a superhero theme on Monday, August 7, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

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