Over 600 Saugus Union School District teachers and classified staff participated in the district-wide Welcome Back to School professional development and company picnic day Thursday.
Starting at Bridgeport Elementary School early in the morning, Saugus teachers took time to register and attend two different breakout sessions to learn about two educational topics of their choosing. But as opposed to going straight into their third and fourth seminars, like they’ve done in years past, this year the district decided to host a two-hour picnic and lunch in between the two two-hour sessions.
“The whole goal today is to do the learning, but also have the fellowship,” said SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins. “And people had said they wanted to have the family feel, and so what’s more fun than games, food, music and prizes?”
The professional development topics teachers could choose from varied from english-learner education, to learning about positive behavior intervention strategies to a number of other topics, according to officials.
“The teachers can pick what they want to learn, so there is a variety of things,” said Sam Ford, vice president of the Saugus Teachers Association. “Anything from stuff about our textbooks, technology, an online parent component that their learning, and I’m teaching a P.E. component. A lot of it is focusing on assessment and how to use different things with standards based learning.”
In total, teachers from all 15 school sites were in attendance, as well as staff members from the district office and governing board members.
“We talk about being a family, and never having enough time together and having fun together,” said Ford. “So, this part is about mixing in the fun with the work.”
During the picnic — which was held in the park directly adjacent to Bridgeport Elementary — teachers were given lunch donated to them by Jersey Mikes, and a number of school sites had their own canopies to protect themselves from the sun that had been decorated in themes specific to that school site.
A live DJ played music while teachers participated in competitive games as teams and individuals.
“In the past, we’ve done lunches on our own, but this is kind of nice — to be with our entire staff and enjoy each other and kind of get back into a casual setting,” said Michelle Green, a first-grade teacher at Mountainview Elementary.