News Archive

Introducing the Severn School Year Seminar

While the last few years have brought many changes to Severn School, there was a welcome new experience introduced in the spring of 2022: The Severn School Year Seminar (SSYS). Severn strives to support the individual and collective growth of our faculty through responsive professional development that provides opportunities for curricular experiences. The brainchild of Director of Studies Dr. Sidra Smith and Upper School English teacher Ms. Julia Maxey, the SSYS was born from the desire to increase interaction among faculty while discussing timely, relevant topics within the scope of education.
The intent of this program is to deepen and enrich the teaching practice of faculty by engaging in dialogue about relevant issues in secondary school teaching and learning. SSYS offers Middle and Upper School faculty an opportunity to meet in person as a cohort, across departments and divisions, to engage in dialogue with colleagues within our community of learners in ways that nurture and develop their teaching practice. This professional growth opportunity is interactive and participant-driven. 
The inaugural SSYS met three times this spring, with a focus on grading. Faculty from grades 6-12 came together to discuss “What does a grade mean?” and “What is my gradebook communicating and why?”
“A lot of the takeaways from these discussions were that while we may teach different grade levels, we have very similar issues. It’s not just me as an upper school English teacher having these issues, it’s not just a middle school math teacher having these issues. We all have the same problems, and we might not have realized that before.” - Ms. Maxey
Topics for the SSYS are decided before the semester starts, and include readings that are selected by the group, plus a group-curated reading list of grade-related essays and books. Participation is 100% voluntary, and Dr. Smith and Ms. Maxey hope to grow attendance each semester. The SSYS is an intentional and impactful program with the goal of building community among all Severn faculty, not just specific departments. While there are many other opportunities for faculty to come together through the school year and in the summer, SSYS focuses on fostering a continuous collaborative environment throughout the year.
“We felt a lack of sustained dialogue with our colleagues across our different departments. The program came from a desire to expand on the offerings we already have, and connecting with the smart, interesting people we have here at Severn. Let’s make and provide a space for us to connect.” - Dr. Smith
For those who may be wary of another event to attend, SSYS is not meant to be a huge time commitment. It is not a lecture or an attempt to change teaching practices, but a forum for discussion among colleagues. While the new topic for Fall 2022 has not been officially chosen yet, Dr. Smith and Ms. Maxey are looking forward to encouraging more collaborative conversations with their colleagues. Keeping community at the center gives us the energy and enthusiasm to explore ideas and try new things.

Our dedication to discovering what matters is not just for students, but our entire Severn community, including faculty. The SSYS enables faculty to engage in discussions with colleagues outside of their departments, and connect on thought-provoking topics and issues. Thank you to the teachers who took the time to assist with SSYS this past spring:  Mike McCarthy, Aegina Martin, Minda Wesley, Laura Steppe, Rachel McMahon, Lisa Clarke, Susan Jackson, JoAnna Josey and Chris Lepi. For those who wish to become involved in the Fall of 2022, please reach out to Dr. Smith or Ms. Maxey.

As a student-centered institution, we believe that we should model the qualities we wish to see in our students. To that end, we engage in professional development as a community of learners. Adults learn best in collaborative situations where professional growth is valued. We provide built-in professional development opportunities throughout the school year and summer, support faculty travel to conferences, and offer grants for personal and professional growth. We hope that faculty will engage frequently in professional development to remain nimble for change in our evolving world.

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Lower School

Preschool-Grade 5
Chesapeake Campus
1185 Baltimore Annapolis Blvd
Arnold, MD 21012

Middle/Upper School

Grade 6-12
Teel Campus
Severna Park, MD 21146