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Professional Development at MKA: Connections Fuel Teaching and Learning

Last month, faculty, staff, and students participated in REIGNITE, MKA’s professional development summer symposium. This conference-style learning experience combined previous summers’ institutes on Technology and Learning, Integrated Ethics, and Multicultural Curricula with brain-research-based best practices to fuel the passion for teaching and learning. One faculty participant shared, “This week was the perfect bridge between school and summer work; [it] sparked new motivation and excitement at the end of a long year.”

REIGNITE was specifically designed to help faculty rejuvenate and reconnect while reigniting their own and their students’ growth as reflective humans, skillful communicators and collaborators, lifelong learners, and change agents – in short, what it means to be an “MKA Learner.” Shanie Israel, Associate Director of Curriculum, Professional Development, and Multicultural Innovations and one of the educators behind REIGNITE said, “What we teach is important, but it is how we teach that allows for the classroom community to truly engage in being an MKA learner. At REIGNITE, we engaged with this framework through multiple lenses and perspectives with the hopes of providing opportunities for our community to reflect, communicate, grow, and take action to be better for our students and ourselves." This symposium included a focus on MKA initiatives, such as ensuring a student-centered approach, nurturing natural curiosity and creativity, improving communication, collaborating with others, and achieving common goals. 

Several current faculty and staff thought leaders lent their expertise to various presentations and experiences, and rising seniors, Alana Arcilla and Emma Choy, presented carefully researched resources to potentially expand the AAPI focus in the MKA curriculum. A feature of the experience was hearing from professionals who could speak to common challenges in and out of the classroom, including Alan Brown of Learning to Thrive, nationally recognized STEM instruction guru Annie Fetter, and Enrique Noguera ’04, Director of the Educational Opportunity Fund Program (EOF) at Passaic County Community College. Enrique gave a powerful keynote about how every person has a responsibility to engender mutual respect, love, and a consciousness of our common humanity in the hearts and minds of future leaders. He said, “Belonging doesn’t just happen. It is the deliberate actions, attitudes, and structures that make everyone feel valued.” 

Many thanks to the organizers and participants of REIGNITE, for providing an opportunity to reflect, communicate, collaborate, learn, and take action.