On their first week off, Delaware teachers are voluntarily putting themselves back to work.
Around 150 Delaware City School District teachers will meet Wednesday and Thursday, June 4-5, at the Delaware Area Career Center's North Campus for the Summer Summit.
"I couldn't be more excited that almost half the staff is coming back on their first week off to give time for professional development and important conversations," Superintendent Paul Craft said.
The Summer Summit uses federal funds to pay for the facility and two nationally known speakers.
"It's the last year of our Race to the Top funds and we're using them to set the stage for what comes next over the next several years," Craft said.
Chris Lehmann, principal of the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia and a leader in online education, will speak about attitudes and underlying principles that teachers need to build on in the classroom.
Craft said the summit is a way for teachers to get together and brainstorm ideas of what kinds of experiences they want their students to have during their Delaware school careers.
"We have spent several years reacting to legislative changes such as the Third Grade Reading Guarantee and the new Common Core standards," Craft said.
"It's time for us to take back the initiative and get solid information on what we want our kids to experience in the 12 to 13 years we have them in our district."
Craft said there will be conversations going on among teachers in specific grade levels and conversations with staff members in buildings as a whole.
"The speakers will hopefully give us some fuel for our discussions about what we need students to know and what skills we need to develop in our students for them to be lifelong learners," he said.
Craft said he hopes to discuss each grade level and each building's challenges, strengths and weaknesses, and leave with new initiatives to put into place.
He said although the Ohio Department of Education sets the learning standards that must be taught in the classrooms, teachers have flexibility in how they will teach the material.
"We have a broad range of freedom in how we teach," he said. "We can meet the standards the state sets and tackle those challenges in a number of different ways."
At this year's convocation, Craft said, he discussed how Frederick Douglass, a social reformer, writer and statesman, learned to read at age 12 and that was a key to his opportunities after he was freed from slavery.
"Education gave him the opportunity to exercise his freedom. Education can give our students the freedom to take on new challenges once they have the opportunity," he said.
Craft said they also will discuss the restructuring of grade levels to the traditional K-5 and 6-8.
"It's an opportune time to have these conversations when we're restructuring our grade levels and moving on to the next phase in our district," he said.