This year, five Clinton Central School District teachers were awarded more than $2,800 to broaden their teaching skills and perspectives by the Kirkland Fellowship program, established through the Hayes-Couper Fund at The Community Foundation of Herkimer & Oneida Counties. The program, which provides learning opportunities for teachers in the Clinton Central School District, was established to help recipients improve the effectiveness of their teaching and to contribute to the advancement of teaching in public schools.

“The fellowship program is an opportunity for teachers to increase their knowledge of certain subject matters and then share that knowledge with their students,” said Jan Squadrito, senior community investment manager at The Community Foundation.

This year’s Kirkland Fellowship program recipients were: sixth grade Clinton Central School teachers Beth Baker, Aften Ford, Kelly Gehring, Jessie Mastracco and Mary Anne Murray. The Fellowship award gave them the opportunity to attend the 17th Annual New York State Middle School Association’s (NYSMSA) Middle-Level Institute Training at Hudson Valley Community College, where they each attended a different workshop focused on professional development in effective, research-based middle-level instruction and programming.

The workshops offered by NYSMSA included seminars on building relationships, community and trust using restorative practices; tools and strategies for deep learning; social media and its effect on students; and implementing middle-level programs in the classroom. Each session is explicitly aligned to the Board of Regents’ priorities to ensure that all New York state students are college and career ready upon graduation.

“Through these workshops, our team gained experience from professional resources that will enhance and refine teaching practices and strategies,” said Murray. “With this newfound information, we can share what we’ve learned among the team and fellow faculty members.”

The Kirkland Fellowship program was established by Gordon and Elizabeth Hayes, and Richard, Patricia and Esther Couper, Clinton natives who wanted to support the community and Clinton Central School District by providing teachers with learning opportunities that help to improve student success. To qualify for the fellowship program, teachers must have at least five years of teaching experience. Through the program, teachers can attend a school, institution or training program to increase their knowledge. They may also work on original research or independent studies that will be used for classroom purposes. Fellows are selected by a five-member committee comprised of representatives of the school district, teachers’ union, Hamilton College and the Hayes or Couper families.

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