Smith shares professional development opportunities with school board

T T-R PHOTO BY SUSANNA MEYER From left to right, Matt Cretsinger, Marshalltown Community School District (MCSD) director of special services, MCSD Director of Instruction Shauna Smith, and Professional Development Leaders Erica Finders and Jenny Allen. The group discussed summer professional development opportunities as well as the proposed professional development calendar for the 2022-2023 school year.

Marshalltown Community School District teachers will have a wide range of professional development opportunities this summer, and Director of Instruction Shauna Smith discussed them with the school board at the regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night.

The summer offerings include Professional Learning Community (PLC) Institutes, Online Academy, teacher externships, and responsive classroom training, and with the help of two professional development leaders and Director of Special Services Matt Cretsinger, Smith shed light on some of these opportunities.

PLC institutes will offer several in-person classes on a variety of topics between the beginning of June and August in Arkansas, Texas, Michigan and Minnesota, and Smith said about 100 teachers were interested in attending.

Professional Development Leader Erica Finders discussed Online Academy, a program where teachers can register for over 30 online courses facilitated through the Canvas learning management system on an internal Google form.

The Online Academy courses will be available starting July 1, and they will run through Aug. 12. Newly hired teachers can participate as of Aug. 1, and teachers will also be paid $20 per hour to attend and complete the courses.

“Online Academy is something that we’re really proud of,” Finders said. “It’s been popular with parents because they don’t have to get childcare. They can do it while their child is napping or late at night or on the weekend.”

Jenny Allen, who is also a professional development leader, then discussed the teacher externships and what they would entail. Externships were offered prior to COVID-19, but due to their hands-on nature, they were put on hold during the pandemic.

This year, they will be offering four available dates for teacher externships during the summer, with each covering different “career clusters” within the community — advanced manufacturing, agriculture industry and health sciences on June 13 and 14 and architecture/construction as well as information and technology on July 14 and 15.

Allen said teachers would meet at MHS for the initial kickoff of the externship and after that, the teachers would visit different businesses and industries. Throughout the process, conversation and reflection would be encouraged so teachers would know how to craft their experiences into learning experiences for their students.

The teachers would be compensated $200 per day, or $400 per externship since they would be attending both dates either in June or July.

Cretsinger talked about responsive classrooms during the presentation, which has a focus on universal Social Emotional Learning (SEL) training. This program will be offered to all elementary teachers and administrators in June and July. All teachers participating would be doing so voluntarily, and they would be compensated accordingly.

A professional development calendar draft for the 2022-2023 school year was also proposed at the meeting. The opportunities in that calendar would come through the National Institute for Excellence in Teaching (NIET), PLCs as well as SEL training. Smith said she received feedback from multiple groups as she drafted the calendar.

“Every time we’ve collaborated with different groups, we have a better product,” Smith said.

Superintendent Theron Schutte thanked Smith for her efforts in putting together a comprehensive professional development calendar draft.

“I want to commend Shauna and Matt and also our professional development leaders. The amount of time that was spent trying to put the professional development schedule together in a way that accommodates all staff to the fullest extent possible, whether it be asynchronous virtual, whether it be virtual, whether it be personalized or differentiated instruction,” Schutte said. “I think most of us that were educators remember the years and years of one size fits all professional development. We’re 180 degrees from that.”

While the calendar isn’t final as of yet, Smith did ask the board to approve the cost of the NIET proposal of services, which would cost $98,000, to be paid through Teacher Quality funds.

The board approved the NIET proposal of services for the aforementioned cost unanimously with board member Karina Hernandez absent, and the district will not be billed until the services are complete.

In other business, the board:

• Recognized the Marshalltown High School (MHS) 2022 dual graduates who graduated with associates degrees from Marshalltown Community College (MCC).

• Recognized the four student school board representatives for their service during the 2021-2022 school year.

• Heard a presentation from the Marshalltown Learning Academy (MLA).

• Heard an overview of the preschool curriculum recommendation.

• Approved the class of 2022 MHS graduates, pending the completion of their graduation requirements.

• Approved a proposal to enter into an agreement with Gordon Flesh for printer maintenance.


Contact Susanna Meyer

at 641-753-6611 or



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