Students were out of class Thursday, but it wasn’t a day off for teachers in the Leavenworth public schools.

Students were out of class Thursday, but it wasn’t a day off for teachers in the Leavenworth public schools.

The school system had a districtwide professional development day. The teachers listened to two speakers who, according to Assistant Superintendent Bret Church, probably have had more influence on what the district is trying to do in the area school improvement than any others.

One of the presenters, Jim Knight, wrote a book called “Unmistakable Impact.”

“It’s kind of the foundation of what we’re doing for school improvement,” Church said.

He said this includes the Impact Schools model used by the district. He said this model uses a process to improve instruction built on partnerships with teachers that establishes common principles for individual schools to work toward.

Church also credited Knight, who is a research associate at the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, with the idea of selecting a “Big Four” for improvement efforts.

The Leavenworth district has four main focus areas — curriculum and instruction, a system of interventions, positive behavior supports and student engagement.

Church said the day’s other speaker, educational consultant Randy Sprick, has been influential in the area of positive behavior supports.
Church said district officials are committed to the Impact Schools and Big Four initiatives, and Thursday’s professional development helped to reemphasize them.

The assistant superintendent said it’s unusual to have a districtwide professional development day. He said this was the first time it’s happened since he’s been with the school district.

About 400 teachers, administrators and other district staff members attended the sessions with Knight and Sprick. The teachers were divided into two groups. Teachers of prekindergarten through the sixth grade spent the day at Richard W. Warren Middle School. Teachers for grades seven through 12 were at Leavenworth High School.

Knight spent the morning speaking to the group at the middle school. Sprick was at the high school. The presenters switched locations for afternoon sessions.

Church said there also will be no classes today as teachers have a work day to close out the academic quarter.