Student walk the LA campus.

Lincoln Academy students change classes on a winter day.

By Matt Goetting and Karan Nair ’16

If you happen to be in town on the first Thursday of the month during the school year, you may have seen a flood of Lincoln Academy students and wondered to yourself, “Why aren’t those kids in school?” The reason stems from a long standing commitment at Lincoln to faculty enrichment and development through the use of “Early Release Days.”

“Early Release Days, or ERDs, provide Lincoln Academy’s administration, faculty, and staff with a regular time for all members to meet, make important announcements, review and discuss issues vital to the school, recognize and celebrate significant accomplishments, and engage in planned professional development activities” says Steven Sullivan, Chair of both LA’s Social Studies department and the Professional Development Committee.

The Professional Development Committee at Lincoln Academy was created in the early 1990s in preparation for the 1993 accreditation by the New England Association of Schools and Colleges (NEASC). The monthly Early Release Days (ERDs) were initially designed by this committee to coordinate and facilitate the NEASC self-study process, which takes place prior to the accreditation visit.

Following that re-accreditation in 1993, a decision was made to continue Early Release Days for the purpose of providing time for administration, faculty and staff to meet regularly, and engage in professional development activities and opportunities.

Subjects for the Early Release Days, which begin at noon, vary from month to month. Examples of recent professional development activities include: an informational presentation on the subject of adolescent brain development; a training session on interactive circles and the restorative justice model; technology modifications, training, and updates; and, health and wellness related presentations and activities. “Our most recent professional development activity was a series of in-house presentations we call the “Lincoln Academy Teacher’s Academy. Faculty members presented to their peers on topics of special interest including new and different instructional techniques and methodologies,” Sullivan reports.

Faculty member Luke Suttmeier believes the ERDs offer faculty much needed collaboration time: “These give me a lot of time to collaborate with my fellow teachers. Due to our busy schedules, it’s difficult to find time to share resources and ideas with each other. This most recent ERD, I led a session about the use of Canvas for beginners in the classroom. ERD’s give us the opportunity to learn more, and develop ourselves as educators.”

ERDs offer benefits to students as well. Says student Cagney O’Brien: “On Early Release Days, I do homework so I get more time to sleep at night, which is especially important after basketball practices in the winter!”

Examples of courses offered during the aforementioned Teacher Academy included:

Digital Photography: We will be looking at the role color & proportion play in photography and [students will] learn how to selectively alter color, post-production, in an image they have taken during class.

National Board Certification: The Nitty Gritty Details. For anyone curious about National Board Certification, We will review the nitty gritty details of what you have to do, what kind of support is available and why I found the work so profoundly rewarding.

Creative Process: This session will focus on creative process. We will take a short time to investigate a few creation/innovation diagrams. Our discussions will provide springboard ideas for small teams to create, film and share a one or two minute film for viewing by end of workshop. Expect hands on, medium-rowdy, film making. No ability with cameras/editing, etc. necessary.

The Very Basics (or not) of the Metal Shop: The workshop will be two hours, we will go through the basics of oxy-acetylene gas welding & cutting, some use of basic hand tools & maybe electric stick and mig welding. Everyone will have the opportunity to test each tool.

Project and inquiry-based learning: Join us for a discussion about project- and inquiry-based learning.  We’ll provide some examples of what we do in Alternative Education, and hope that you’ll share ideas about what has worked for you in this realm.  We’d also like to have a conversation (and even some healthy debate!) about the topic in general.

Edwin Arlington Robinson, our own Lincoln County poet born in Head Tide, Maine on December 22, celebrates his 146 birthday.  In addition to looking into his Maine roots, we will read his canonical poems, “Richard Cory,” “The House on the Hill,” “The Mill,” and others.

Encouraging problem solving and innovation with game style curricula. Curious about how to teach collaboration, problem solving and critical thinking? Come try out one way to incorporate game style curricula in your class – an immersive experience

Intro to ATEC: understand what capabilities we have in the new Applied Technology and Engineering Center and how it could be incorporated into your classes.

Lincoln Academy’s Next Early Release Day is Thursday, February 4. School will be dismissed at 11:40 am.