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EPCUSD 401 charges ahead with latest Institute Day

teachers in a classroom on institute day
Sam Britten, Marketing & Publishing Specialist

EPCUSD 401 held its third Institute Day of the 2023-24 school year for all district teachers. The day included topics such as instructional differentiation, next-level teaching and various training sessions tailored to subject and grade level.

“Everybody was engaged,” said Director for Curriculum and Instruction Darek Naglak. “I saw that a lot of people in the sessions were engaged and learning new strategies.”

For some teachers, the day was all about learning what their students need to know before advancing to the next grade level. Eighth Grade Science Teacher Jack Doyle has been a middle school science teacher at Elm for a few years now but recently switched from teaching seventh grade to eighth grade. 

“I was able to get a lot more specific information about what our students need to know when they start ninth grade,” said Doyle. 

One of the highlights was a speech by keynote speaker Jonathan Alsheimer. Alsheimer, a middle school teacher in northern Virginia, is not only an educator but once fought in an MMA bout which he uses as motivation in his speeches. 

teachers in a session during institute day

Teachers gather during a session on Institute Day. (Photo: Dave Porreca)

“It’s not always about what we teach, but how we teach it,” said Naglak on his takeaway from the keynote speaker.  

The high school English department will be moving to standards-based grading next year. This institute day allowed time for the department to collaborate and prepare for the 2024-25 rollout.

“We are moving towards standards-based grading next year,” said Elmwood Park High School English Teacher Christina Heinen. “So we really want to come in prepared.”

Other district employees also had some big takeaways from the day of learning. Front office staff from each building had PowerSchool training to prepare for upcoming changes in the software. 

“I think it will be nice for us to get comfortable with the program and know how to work it for the beginning of the 2024-25 school year,” said Elmwood Elementary School Office Clerk Wendy Davila Albarran. 

The fourth and final Institute Day will be on April 26. 

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