Brooks Receives $100,000 Grant for Professional Development

Brooks School recently received a $100,000 grant from the Cummings Foundation to provide thorough professional development in competency-based education for each of the school's 63 teaching faculty members. Brooks was one of 100 local awardees, out of a record-breaking 597 nonprofit applicants.

"This is terrific news for our faculty and for our students, as it will make a positive and lasting immediate impact on the quality and depth of the teaching and learning happening in our classrooms, " Dean of Faculty John McVeigh said.

Director of Teaching and Learning Mary Jo Carabatsos P'17, P'20 and Dean of Faculty John McVeigh proudly hold the official award certificate for the Cummings Foundation's $100,000 grant.

While proud of the education and care our faculty provides to each and every student, Brooks is always looking to do more; to do better. An internal academic examination a few years ago showed there were some inconsistencies in grading, instruction and assessment from classroom to classroom. Additionally, it's become clear that standard grading methods don't necessarily account for the basic skills and habits students need to be successful in college, career and everyday life.

As a result, Brooks piloted Competency Based Education (CBE) in limited facets during this past academic year, and will continue to roll out its Success Skills rubrics incrementally during the next few years. Applying CBE to the way we teach and assess will improve each student's problem-solving, communications and leadership skills as they move from student to productive community member.

"Using a skills-based approach to assessment means that students need to apply the knowledge they are learning in novel situations," Director of Teaching and Learning Mary Jo Carabatsos P'17, P'20 said. "This is what learning should be."

Carabatsos is one of five Brooks educators who has explored competency-based education through professional development opportunities. But every teaching faculty member must receive in-depth training in order for Brooks to successfully model competency-based education as a school.

Thanks to this grant, every Brooks faculty member will receive CBE training during the next four years through workshops, hands-on programs and educational classes. One particular opportunity for our teachers is week-long educational series at the Mastery Transcript Consortium, which Carabatsos and Associate Head for Academic Affairs Lance Latham have attended for two consecutive summers. This peer-learning opportunity focuses on creating a transcript that emphasizes performance areas, as opposed to academic departments, and mastery standards and micro-credits, as opposed to grades.

"There is no such thing as 'perfection' in teaching -- even the most experienced and gifted educators know that you can always improve and add things to your toolbox," McVeigh said. "I'm so grateful to be surrounded by faculty members who care about kids, love the craft of teaching, and who will make the most of this wonderful opportunity that the Cummings Foundation has provided for us."

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