Johnson County Regional Fall Institute
Joe Nighswande, Superintendent – New Simpson Hill District #32
Five schools from Johnson County, Ill., met at Camp Ondessonk October 7th for their Annual Fall Regional Teachers Institute Day. School districts involved in the institute included Buncombe Elementary District, Cypress Grade School District, New Simpson Hill District #32, Vienna Grade School District, and Vienna High School District.
It was a beautiful and rewarding day for the educators involved in the team-building and Professional Learning Communities trainings. The day began with breakfast and introductions along with an overview of the day. Participants were divided into Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) of educators from different buildings, but with similar assignments to encourage discussion revolving around their perspective teaching assignment by grade level or subject area. Each group participated in icebreaker questions, and then participated in a competitive team building exercise of building towers using items that described their teaching style.
After the team building exercises, groups participated in a “walk and talk” hike through Camp Ondessonk’s forested acres. Each group had a list of discussion items related to the field of education and promoting team building and socializing among participants. This exercise was followed by a wonderful lunch and a choice of afternoon free time activities. Activities that participants could choose from included: archery, climbing wall, hiking, boating, and handicrafts. The entire group met at the end of the day in Le Coeur to wrap-up and summarize their experiences throughout the day.
I appreciate all the hard work of the Camp Ondessonk team for organizing and managing an extremely productive day of team building and motivating the educators from the five districts involved in the Johnson County Fall Teacher Institute. Nolan Hurst and Evan Coulson did an amazing job of organizing and planning the day’s activities. We feel blessed to have such a great resource in the area for our staff and our students.
The Camp Ondessonk staff was very accommodating and helpful. The participants were refreshed with a beautiful day at Camp Ondessonk and I heard many positive comments from the teachers and other school-related professionals. Some comments included: ”We need to do this every year,” along with suggestions from teachers in the future to have a campout with campfires, storytelling, and s’mores starting the evening before the Teacher Institute. This type of activity was a “nice change of pace” from our typical PLC meetings and provided everyone with fresh air, exercise, and an avenue to share ways to improve teaching and learning for the schools in Johnson County.
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