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Professional Development for Educators: Gratitude for Those Who Make It Possible - By Morgan

I returned to Lake & Park this fall filled with gratitude for the professional opportunities the contributions to the annual fund have allowed me over the past year.

In April, I traveled to Finland for two weeks to study the globally recognized success of their education system. Many of you had an opportunity to attend my presentation during which I shared my experiences in the Scandinavian country last May. While there are countless aspects of the Finnish philosophy of education that I observed and admired, what I found most inspirational was their holistic approach to education. This approach, which aims to educate and nurture the whole child, rather than just the intellectual, academic side, has been an aspect that I've worked to integrate mindfully into curriculum planning at Lake & Park School.

While I've had many opportunities to share my experiences and thoughts with Lake & Park teachers, I was chosen to present my findings on Finland at the Northwest Association of Independent Schools Annual Fall Conference in October. My audience was large and varied and I left with a sense that a bit of the wisdom of Finland had trickled into the minds of educators from around our region and will hopefully find implementation in their schools and classrooms.

While exploring the schools of Finland was inspirational beyond any expectation I had, I was fortunate to also be accepted in the Harvard Graduate School's summer institute: Passion Driven Learning Through the Arts. While there, I worked alongside international music artists Yo Yo Ma and The Silk Road Ensemble. Glynn Macdonald, the movement director at the Globe Theater in London, as well as Carlina Rinaldi, who worked side by side with Loris Malaguzzi to develop the Reggio Emilia approach to education, were also members of the institute's faculty. The focusing questions that guided our discussions during the half-week experience were, "What does it mean to truly listen?" "How can we create environments in which students are able to listen to themselves?" And, "What is the role that passion plays in education?" We explored possibilities for integrating the arts into academic subjects, as the arts have a unique ability to inspire passion and invite connection.

To learn more about my experience and the role passion plays in education, you can listen to an interview with the Director of the Graduate School of Education and leader of the Passion-Driven Learning Institute I attended.

If you're not familiar with Yo Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble, I highly recommend familiarizing yourself with with their wisdom and view their most recent documentary, The Music of Strangers.

Again, it was with the contributions to the annual fund that I could afford to accept their invitation and work alongside some of the world's greatest artists at Harvard. I returned to Lake & Park this fall with a newfound wonder for the power of music, movement and other art forms to instill passion in learners. I also returned eager to implement my discoveries at Harvard and share my experiences with my colleagues. It is important for educators to continue learning and remain curious and passionate about their work. When educators are inspired, passion, wonder and joy fill their classrooms.

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