Cheng Library Supports Paterson Schools With New Professional Development Program

Supporting our K-12 education partners

Neil Grimes , Curriculum Materials & Education Librarian (L), Gary Marks, Jr., Reference & Outreach Librarian (Top R), and Richard Kearney, Electronic Resources Librarian (Bottom R)

     With education at all levels facing unprecedented teaching challenges in online environments, several librarians at the David and Lorraine Cheng Library formed a partnership with the Paterson School District to support virtual instruction and learning. Led by Education & Curriculum Materials Librarian Neil Grimes, the program provides virtual professional development opportunities for educators in the Paterson Public School system hosted by Librarians at the Cheng Library. In September, Grimes and Reference & Outreach Librarian Gary Marks offered the first in a series of virtual professional development programs of the 2020-2021 school year. The session provided over 50 educators, primarily library media specialists and technology instructors, with online resources and tools, enabling greater collaboration with teaching faculty and integrating innovations into their teaching and learning portfolios. Grimes & Marks also developed a comprehensive research guide that outlines the resources and tools and can be periodically updated to support educators' ongoing professional development efforts. 
     The initial program was well received and led to the Paterson Schools' requests for additional professional development opportunities. A second program, where Electronic Resources Librarian Richard Kearney joined Grimes, provided over 70 participants, including all the Social Studies educators in the district, with resources supporting their students' National History Day preparation. Many students in the community participate in the National History Day competition, and this session aided their instructors by introducing new resources specific to this annual event.
     Following the first set of district-wide virtual professional development sessions, International High School Principal Catherine Forfia-Dion requested specialized programs focusing on research and project-based learning. Grimes developed two sessions addressing project-based learning, collaborative teaching, research across the curriculum, online teaching resources, and culturally responsive education resources in response to the request.  The International High School faculty's feedback was positive, and Principal Catherine Forfia-Dion is looking forward to continuing the collaboration with the Cheng Library in the future.
     The collaboration aims to strengthen educators' online teaching by developing their portfolio of instructional resources.  One International High School teacher, Christopher Wirkmaa, expressed, "I plan on using many of the resources shared during the virtual professional development session to help me right now with my online teaching with students."
     Building upon the partnership with the Paterson School District, the Library hopes to connect with other school systems to expand the virtual professional development initiative. Deputy Director of Accelerated & Innovative Programs for the Paterson Schools, Rita Route, recently joined Grimes at the annual VALE Users’ Conference. They co-presented details of the initiative and discussed how the program's virtual element aids schools in providing broader professional development opportunities for educators. Their presentation offered other academic librarians in the state with a framework to explore similar initiatives with schools in their region and to broadly enhance the collaboration between K-12 school systems and higher education institutions.


February 10, 2021