The REAL deal

Five from the Academy to present at prestigious annual education conference.

Clockwise, from top left, GPA faculty/staff members Megan Black, Trevor Clor, Didi DeBoer, Stephanie Raezler and Bridgette Murray will be presenting at the 2018 ISACS Annual Conference in November.

Five members of The Grosse Pointe Academy’s faculty and staff will be among the presenters at the 2018 Independent Schools Association of the Central States (ISACS) Annual Conference, which this year is in Detroit.

The theme of the conference, which will be held at Detroit’s Cobo Center Nov. 8-9, is “Blazing a Trail to Learning 2” and the speaker line-up includes many of the leading thinkers on issues relevant to today’s independent school, including keynote speakers Beverly Daniel Tatum, PhD, president emerita of Spelman College; and Ron Clark, known to many as “America’s Educator” and the 2000 Disney American Teacher of the Year, a two-time New York Times best-selling author, the subject of a television movie, and founder of The Ron Clark Academy, an inner-city school serving students from across metro Atlanta.

The Academy is well-represented again at the speaker dais for this annual conference with Megan Black (technology and learning specialist, co-coordinator of STEAM and the Garden Classroom), Stephanie Raezler (grade 4), Trevor Clor (social studies 6-8, grammar and composition 6), Bridgette Murray (language arts 6-8) and Didi DeBoer (assistant head of school for grades 4-8) scheduled to present on a number of the unique and special initiatives integrated into the curriculum at GPA.

This year’s ISACS conference, which will be held in Detroit, has “Blazing a Trail to Learning 2” as its overall theme.

According to GPA French teacher Amal El-Hosni, who also serves as GPA’s ISACS teacher representative, Black and Raezler are teaming up to present “E-Portfolio Empowered,” Clor and Murray will present on GPA’s “REAL Program,” and Black and DeBoer will talk about the Academy’s successful “Garden Classroom.”

“Megan and I are thrilled to be presenting about the GPA Garden Classroom again this year at ISACS,” DeBoer said. “We are looking forward to sharing our love of gardening with others.”

She said they plan to talk about cross-curricular lessons and projects in the garden that “bring the joy of learning in the outdoors to life for the students with ideas that span all four seasons.”

Black said she and Raezler are super excited to share E-Portfolio Empowered to such a large audience at the conference.

“Our presentation will show those in attendance that the E-Portfolio program offers resources, examples and best practices to support students in the construction of electronic portfolios,” she said.

Clor says he is looking forward to presenting alongside Murray at the ISACS conference on the school’s innovative REAL classes, or “Real-World Experience and Applied Learning” classes.

“These classes are one of my favorite parts about teaching here at GPA,” he said. “They give students the chance to literally and figuratively step outside of the normal everyday school routine. I strongly believe that first-hand experience is the best educator.”

Clor said he actually feels a bit guilty about teaching the REAL courses.

“Selfishly, I enjoy REAL classes because they give us as teachers the choice to teach about our passions,” he said. “I’ve been able to work with students to create a history museum and theme park, both of which are things that I absolutely love in my life away from school. Finally, REAL classes always have unexpected outcomes. These classes have no ‘final exam,’ and they’re all about creating something new and unique. From my experience, the final product is never what I imagined it would be, and that’s okay. The journey is always the reward itself.”

Murray said she also looks forward to sharing all the great things happening at the Academy.

Students learn about audio-animatronics at the Rainforest Cafe last year as part of the Academy’s REAL Program.

“I am excited to be presenting at ISACS with Trevor on our REAL class program because I truly believe that these classes represent one of the many wonderful opportunities that The Grosse Pointe Academy offers that separates us from other area schools,” she said. “Not only is it fun for the teachers to inspire students about the things in life they are passionate about, but we also get a chance to see our students in a new light; learn what ignites their fire. Life is all about learning how to handle new situations without rulebooks as well as learning that not all answers can be found in a textbook.”

Each of the three GPA presentations are summarized in the ISACS program as follows:

E-Portfolio Empowered Megan Black & Stephanie Raezler, The Grosse Pointe Academy: The session will focus on ensuring the process is reflective so that learners are able to articulate goals and evaluate growth. Test drive platforms and apps that create and curate. Work samples, rubrics, and checklists will be shared so that participants leave with confidence to immediately incorporate e-portfolios into classrooms. This session is for K-12.

The Garden Classroom: Creative Outdoor Learning Didi DeBoer and Megan Black, The Grosse Pointe Academy: Anything that can be taught indoors can be taught outdoors in the Garden Classroom in a more enjoyable manner. Students love the hands-on, practical experiences presented for learning throughout the seasons. This is an interactive session with lessons, demonstrations, and takeaways appropriate for K-8.

Middle School Gets REAL: Real Experiences/Applied Learning Bridgette Murray and Trevor Clor, The Grosse Pointe Academy: Hear about a program that provides opportunities for students to engage in real-world tasks that extend classroom learning, employ cross-disciplinary thinking, make connections to the world outside of their classroom, and create innovative solutions and products as a result of their work. Leave with a better understanding of how to implement facets of this experiential learning. This session is for middle and upper school teachers.

More about ISACS: The Independent Schools Association of the Central States is one of the largest regional organizations serving the independent school community. ISACS currently provides services for more than 230 schools across the Midwest. For over forty years, ISACS has been providing schools with assistance on accreditation, professional development and best practices in independent education.