Crossroads News

Crossroads Faculty Bring New Insights to Campus

Employees share and implement their learnings after a summer of professional development.
At Crossroads, faculty members are encouraged to continually learn and grow to deepen their teaching practice. Every teacher has the opportunity to engage in professional development through workshops and educational lectures or seminars related to their field. 

Faculty can also apply for a Crossroads Faculty Personal and Professional Growth Award, which allocates additional professional development funds toward creating innovative new curricula. This summer, 17 faculty members from across all three divisions participated in professional development opportunities in subjects including art, music, science, history and world languages. Teachers embraced the chance to become students, attending in-state workshops, traveling across the U.S. for research opportunities and taking courses across the globe.

Middle School Science Teachers Leanne DeCraene and Sara Luke traveled to the Peruvian Amazon to conduct biodiversity research with Earth Watch, a nonprofit that connects citizens with scientists to improve the health and sustainability of the planet. Leanne and Sara appreciated the opportunity to pursue their scientific interests with the goal of enhancing their teaching practice. They came back from the trip inspired to incorporate their experience into the classroom as part of the seventh grade curriculum on ecology, biodiversity and environmental science. 

“For Crossroads to offer one of these grants is amazing,” said Sara. “In order for teachers to stay inspired, they have to be able to ignite the passions inside of them. It makes you want to enhance your curriculum to reflect what is happening in the world.”

Sara will be using the research data points she and Leanne collected–including the number of shore birds, bass and pink and gray river dolphins they spotted–to teach students about graphing and data analysis. In addition, she hopes to facilitate citizen science projects, which allow students to explore the causes that they’re passionate about.

“To be an example to students of the value and importance of life-long learning is incredibly important,” said Leanne. “Stepping back into the shoes of students—taking notes, recording data, collaborating in a group, asking questions and so much more—allowed me to refresh my perspective, think about the learner and appreciate the value in knowing you are contributing to research and change that is larger than you.” 

The School also granted a Faculty Personal and Professional Growth Award to Middle School Latin Teacher Marisa Alimento to attend Cambridge University's International Summer Programme in England. Marisa took courses on Ovid's “Metamorphoses” and Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar” and attended lectures on topics including economics, British humor and Bede, the Anglo-Saxon theologian, historian and chronologist.

These faculty members participated in Crossroads-funded professional development over the summer: 

  • Elementary School visual arts teachers Susan Arena, Zoe Cain and Anne Kessler participated in a workshop on printmaking hosted by the Las Palmas Art Center in Palm Springs.

  • Elementary School Dean of Teaching and Learning Matt Lintner completed a one-week certification course on Critical Friends Group (CFG) Coaches’ Training hosted by the National School Reform Faculty. CFG helps teachers improve their practice through collaborative learning, deep reflection and structured protocols. 

  • Seventh Grade Core Teacher Todd Baron visited Memphis, Tennessee, to research the connection between American music and the Civil Rights Movement. He visited Stax Records and the Sun Records recording studio, which were central to the development of blues, R&B and country music. He toured the Cotton Exchange Museum and the National Civil Rights Museum, where he conducted research and learned from museum experts.

  • Eighth Grade Core Teachers Liam Considine, Julian Laurent and Hunter McCord traveled to Germany and Poland to deepen their curriculum on the Interwar period and the Holocaust. They conducted research and visited museums including the Jewish Museum of Berlin, the "Roads Not Taken" exhibit at the Deutsches Historisches Museum and the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. In Poland, they participated in an educator-led visit to the grounds of Auschwitz-Birkenau, went on a history-based walking tour of the Jewish Quarter of Krakow and attended Krakow's Jewish Culture Festival.

  • Middle School Yearbook Teacher and Middle and Upper School Life Skills Teacher Monica Hannush attended a Council training at the TOPA Institute in Ojai focused on developing Council practices that facilitate relationship-building, open communication and mindfulness.

  • Upper School Dean of Teaching and Learning Mercedes Barletta, K-12 Director of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Stephanie Carrillo and Assistant Head of Upper School Rika Drea attended a week-long workshop at University of California, Santa Barbara titled Neuroscience for Optimal Learning: Strategies for Developing Students' Attention, Emotional Strengths, Memory, and Executive Functions, led by neurologist and author Dr. Judy Willis. 

  • Middle and Upper School Learning Specialists Ruby Gibson and Catherine Stewart also visited University of California, Santa Barbara to attend a professional development workshop called Learning & the Brain: Executive Functions and Reading, Writing and Math. In addition, Catherine completed the Institute’s course The Science of Memory and Attention. 

  • Upper School English Teacher Christy Hutchcraft took the course The World as It Could Be: Speculative Fiction from Around the World, hosted by the ORIAS Institute at University of California, Berkeley. The course explored the genre of speculative fiction and the ways in which voices across the globe frame and respond to some of the biggest challenges of our times, including climate change and AI. Teachers also participated in world-building writing exercises to experience the transformative power of creating alternative stories to current realities.

  • During faculty orientation week, all Crossroads faculty participated in a professional development workshop on Diversity, Equity and Inclusion led by Emily Chiariello, participating in hands-on activities that explored social justice standards (Identity, Diversity, Justice and Action) and how to engage students in discussions around bias, culture and social justice.

  • In support of the School’s ongoing educational initiatives centered on Diversity, Equity & Inclusion, all faculty members attended a presentation on antisemitism given by two representatives of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL): Southern California Education Director Megan Nevels and Los Angeles Regional Director Jeffrey Abrams P’25, who is also a Crossroads parent. Faculty learned about the history of antisemitism, best practices for responding to bias incidents and the ways in which hate can escalate when biases aren’t addressed. Megan and Jeffrey focused on the importance of early intervention and education in preventing patterns of hate. A similar educational opportunity will be offered to the parent/guardian community this fall.

In addition, Upper School History Teacher Drew Devore received a grant from the National Institute for Humanities to attend the Buffalo Nations Landmarks program, which prepares K-12 educators to implement curriculum focusing on the history and revitalization of the American Bison as related to Indigenous Nations.