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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

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First Kagan School Trainer Certified in Cenla
Tammy Moreau and Kathy Gunn
/ Categories: Uncategorized

First Kagan School Trainer Certified in Cenla

Kessler is first educator to achieve goal

Acadian Elementary School Principal Peggy Kessler is the first Central Louisiana educator to earn the title of Kagan Certified School Trainer, an honor Kessler believes will further improve teaching and student outcomes at her school.

“As a principal you are charged with making sure that your students are ready for the future. Kagan works at all levels and all socioeconomic populations. The students at Acadian deserve to be taught in a way that is tried and true and proven that it works, and Kagan does. So why did I do it? I did it for my 4 year olds, my 5 year olds and my 12 year olds so that they could get what they needed to be successful.” 

Acadian Elementary Principal Peggy Kessler helps guide teachers at Acadian in how to bring Kagan structures into the classroom.


Kagan Publishing & Professional Development provides educators with professional development opportunities, including workshops, institutes, academies and hands-on classroom coaching, and products and tools for classroom management. Kagan is known for its research-based cooperative-learning strategies and classroom structures applicable to any curriculum and grade level. Its products and services are proven to boost academic gains, close the achievement gap and ensure high levels of learning by engaging every student in the classroom. 

Recognizing the effectiveness of Kagan, The Rapides Foundation’s Education Initiative offers summer institutes for Central Louisiana educators to learn Kagan’s cooperative-learning strategies and classroom structures. These institutes have given hundreds of educators the opportunity to further their careers while helping students achieve success.

In addition to bringing Kagan institutes to Central Louisiana, The Rapides Foundation awards district-level grants that have allowed some districts to offer Kagan opportunities for educators throughout the entire school year.

“The Rapides Foundation’s Education Initiative seeks to increase the level of educational attainment because we feel that is critical to improving the health status of a community, and this is why we invest 40 percent of our grantmaking dollars in education,” said Joe Rosier, President and CEO of The Rapides Foundation. “One of the core strategies for our initiative has been to provide professional development and leadership opportunities for teachers and school leaders, knowing that strong school leadership and instructional strategies ultimately lead to improved student achievement.”

The Orchard Foundation, a local education fund that works with school districts, businesses and communities to improve educational opportunities in Central Louisiana, administers many of the institutes and programs developed under The Rapides Foundation’s Education Initiative.

“It is extremely important that The Orchard Foundation creates capacity within our school districts to support the successful initiatives we facilitate,” said Marjorie Taylor, Executive Director of The Orchard Foundation. “Kagan Cooperative Learning has proven to be one of the most successful approaches as its purpose is to train teachers in cooperative learning strategies in order to increase student engagement in the classroom.”

Three years ago, with the goal of creating internal capacity within the region’s schools, The Orchard Foundation implemented a cycle to have teachers certified as Kagan coaches who can mentor other teachers at their schools who are using Kagan strategies. Another goal was to then develop Kagan Certified School Trainers – educators who are authorized to train other teachers in Kagan cooperative learning strategies.

“Peggy was one of just a few people in our region who had met all the requirements necessary to submit an application to Kagan to become a certified school trainer. We were so excited when her application was accepted. Currently, this is the highest level of capacity building for Kagan that we can achieve. Our hope is to certify more school trainers over the next few years,” Taylor said.

As a Kagan Certified School Trainer, Kessler is authorized to train staff at her school in Kagan’s five-day Cooperative Learning workshop. Acadian Elementary also has six certified Kagan coaches on staff who are authorized to help teachers implement Kagan Structures in their classrooms. Kagan Structures are simple, step-by-step instructional strategies designed to increase student engagement and learning. These structures are designed to provide teachers with additional resources, tools and strategies they can use to help their students succeed, regardless of the subject or grade level. Acadian uses Kagan Structures in every classroom, every grade level.

A strong believer in Kagan and its effectiveness, Kessler brought Kagan to Acadian Elementary in 2012, and in just a short time, Acadian went from an F school to a C school. “We attribute that strongly to implementing Kagan across the board. Even though we have had an extremely low amount of turnover in teachers at my school, I still have one or two new teachers a year that come into Acadian and they are not always trained in Kagan, or if they are trained, they aren’t trained to the level of all my other teachers. To ensure the continuity of the learning of my students from pre-K to fifth grade, all teachers need to be fully certified in how to implement Kagan Structures. Now that I am a Kagan Certified School Trainer, I can provide that continuity to my students by ensuring all of their teachers are certified in Kagan Structures.”

Acadian Elementary Principal Peggy Kessler helps guide teachers at Acadian in how to bring Kagan structures into the classroom.
 

Kessler has two more Kagan goals she hopes to achieve soon. One is to become a Certified District Trainer that will allow her to train teachers from throughout Rapides Parish. Her other goal is for Acadian Elementary to become the area’s first Kagan Model School, and she’s hoping that could happen as soon as next school year.

“What an honor it would be for a school that was at the bottom of the district, which had a School Performance Score of an F, and then within three to five years to be held out for the state as a model school in Kagan,” Kessler said. “It would be an honor first of all for the parents that have stuck with us at Acadian, as well as for the teachers who have worked long and hard to get to where we are.”

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