400 Educators Participate in the Prelacy Armenian Schools’ Professional Development Day Conference

Educators listen attentively to the opening session of the conference

NORTHRIDGE, Calif.—The Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools held its 2015-2016 Annual Professional Development Day (APDD) conference on Saturday, January 23 at California State University, Northridge.

This year’s APDD, which has been taking place for over fifteen years, was organized in cooperation with the university’s Armenian Studies Program.

Alongside the Prelacy Armenian Schools and Preschools, this year teachers and faculty from the following Armenian schools attended the conference: Charlotte & Elise Merdinian Armenian Evangelical School, Sahag Mesrob Armenian Christian School, St. Gregory Alfred and Marguerite Hovsepian Armenian School, Armenian Sisters Academy and Charlie Keyan Armenian Community School of Fresno.

The total number of educators who participated in the conference reached 400. Joining the educators this year, the Board of Regents had also extended invitations to School Board members and Parent Organization representatives of Prelacy Armenian Schools.

Dr. Hasmig Baran, Board of Regents member, welcomed all the participants to this year’s APDD and commenced the conference by inviting Archbishop Moushegh Mardirossian, Prelate of the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church, to deliver the invocation. In his address, the prelate emphasized that teaching is one of the noblest professions, and one of the most challenging, yet one of the most rewarding. He stressed the enormous responsibility placed on teachers to develop young minds and shape their character. Archbishop Mardirossian concluded his remarks by stating, “As you may know, His Holiness has proclaimed 2016 as the Year of Service. Therefore, more than ever, let us commit ourselves in service for a greater cause, for in the words of our Pontiff, “service is the expression of the love and dedication we have for others” and is a moral obligation and duty for us all.”

Archbishop Mardirossian’s message was followed by the opening remarks by Mrs. Lisa Gaboudian, Chairwoman of the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools. Mrs. Gaboudian welcomed the educators and expressed her appreciation for the dedicated service and the commitment of all the participants. She specially acknowledged all attending Armenian Daily Schools and Preschools and their Principals and Directors. She thanked Dr. Vaharam Shemassian, Director of the Armenian Studies program at CSUN, for collaborating with the Board of Regents and hosting this year’s Annual Professional Development Day conference. During her remarks, Mrs. Gaboudian took a moment to address and recognize the service of Armenian subject teachers. HasGaboudian stated, “We commemorated the Armenian Genocide Centennial, which was not only a demand for recognition and reparation, but an opportunity for every Armenian to do their utmost to ensure that our future generations retain and cherish their Armenian identity and speak Armenian. The continuous regression of utilizing and communicating in Armenian has caused great concern amongst us all. Hence, the role of the Armenian School and specifically the role of the Armenian teacher have become more imperative than ever. We thank and commend the dedication of all Armenian language teachers. We thank all of you for your devotion and wish you strength and patience in your continued devotion and dedication towards our mission.”

The keynote address of the day was presented by Dr. Vahram Shemmassian, Director of the Armenian Studies Program at CSUN, titled “Challenges and Methods for Armenian Language Revitalization.” Dr. Shemmassian stressed the fact that language preservation and that of Armenian identity are inextricably interwoven, multifaceted, and multilayered. Dr. Shemmassian focused on certain issues pertaining to Armenian schools. He suggested that Armenian should be viewed as a modern, living language which the new generations can comfortably utilize in their daily conversations regarding any issue, not just Armenian themes. The various dialects and sub-dialects need not cause apprehension and be looked upon as a barrier among those who use them, but rather should be treated with understanding. Parents, moreover, should be made part of the solution to revitalizing Armenian as a medium of communication by organizing special seminars conducted by expert linguists, stressing the values of bi-lingual education to a person’s education and development. Full advantage of technology should be taken to reach out to every Armenian, young and adult, for a wider application of the language. Dr. Shemmassian concluded his address by informing that the Armenian Studies Program and the Integrated Teacher Education Program (ITEP) in the Liberal Arts major at CSUN have collaborated to prepare Armenian teachers. This has been made possible by a generous contribution from the TF Educational Fund.

After the keynote address, Suren Seropian, Director of Development – College of Humanities at CSUN, shared the logistics for the day, followed by Dr. Houri Arslanian Keuroghlian, Board of Regents Secretary, who presented the day’s agenda and provided a general overview of the scheduled sessions and their presenters.

The agenda of the day was divided into three sessions.

The first breakout session was scheduled from 10:15 to 11:30 a.m. and included nine workshops, during which the following topics were presented:
1. “Common Core Math” – This workshop was presented by Lisa Reed.
2.¬ “Writing for Common Core” – This workshop was presented by Jane Patterson.
3. “Five Common Core Shifts” – This workshop was presented by John Matich.
4. “Positive Behavior Support” – This workshop was presented by Scott Cody.
5. “How to Support Students with Learning Challenges” – This workshop was presented by Corky O’Rourke.
6. “Next Generation Science” – This workshop was presented by Shawna Metcalf.
7. “Technology: Google Classroom” – This workshop was presented by Traci Taylor.
8. “Project-Based Learning” – This workshop was presented by Chase Orton.
9. “Understanding Challenging Behaviors” – This workshop was presented by Dr. Dana Kalek and attended by Preschool teachers.
The nine workshops were repeated between 11:45 a.m. and 1 p.m. This gave the attendees an opportunity to participate in more than one workshop of interest.

Following the lunch break, a general session available to all participants was held between 1:45 to 3 p.m.. A lecture entitled “Differentiation of Instruction” was presented by Dr. Paul Payne. This general session provided tools for teaching by modeling and addressing the misconceptions about differentiation, while balancing the reality of the challenges facing our school system and the rigorous CCSS.

The Board of Regents called this year’s conference “a great success.” The Annual Professional Development Day conference has become a yearly tradition during which our teachers have the opportunity to attend educational workshops presented by professional lecturers. These workshops are designed to further advance the educational knowledge of the participants, while expanding their horizons with innovative and new educational approaches.

The Annual Professional Development Day conference organized by the Board of Regents of Prelacy Armenian Schools also serves as a unique opportunity for educators of Armenian Schools to come together, get acquainted with one another, and share their experiences and expertise.

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