Teaching Teachers
October 28, 2002
Education Writer, (609) 272-7241

Stockton's preparing school professionals for the future
(by Diane D'Amico)

Anu Vedantham, Director of the Southern Regional ETTC.

Galloway Township - In 1997, then Gov. Christie Whitman funded Educational Technology Training Centers, or ETTC, in each county. Their job was to train teachers to use the millions of dollars in new technology the state was financing.

The state expected the ETTCs to become self-sufficient, but many did not. One that did thrive was the Atlantic County Educational Technology Training Center, run from a converted classroom at the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey.

In 2001-02 almost 6,000 teachers attended 678 ETTC workshops held at Stockton and participating schools. "When we started almost a third of the classes were in basic skills," said Harvey Kesselman, ETTC chairman and vice president of academic affairs at Stockton. "Now none are in the basics and we're teaching how to use technology to meet the state standards."

In July, state Commissioner of Education William Librera asked Stockton to expand technology training in neighboring counties and become the Southern Regional ETTC.

Now, the college plans to use the same successful collaboration of school districts and nonprofit

Harvey Kesselman, vice president of student affairs at Stockton examines a computer microscope designed for elementary students.

agencies to become the premier provider of teacher professional-development programs in southern New Jersey via the new Southern Regional Institute.

New Jersey requires all teachers to get 100 hours of professional development within five years.

Stockton plans to customize programs for its almost 50 members, which currently include every Atlantic County school district, charter schools, private schools, nonprofit agencies and a growing number of school districts in Cape May, Cumberland, Ocean and Gloucester counties.

"There are issues that go beyond technology," Kesselman said. "We plan to address preschool, reading, leadership, character education, and school violence."

Kesselman said its ETTC has thrived because it's run by a consortium of people who use it. School districts pay a per-student fee, currently $2.25, for which they get a set of training hours.

'The districts have been part of it from the beginning," he said. "It's a true partnership."

Anu Vedantham, ETTC director, said members like being able to customize programs.

A instructor is going to St. Joseph's High School in Hammonton to teach the staff how to use a new security program. Also, a summer program on teaching math was held for six Atlantic County school districts looking to improve their state test scores. In addition, Vineland is using ETTC for a districtwide training project.

Kesselman said that ETTC consortium would begin forming committees to determine what professional training is needed, and how to best offer it via the new institute.

Diane DeGiacomo, Buena Regional School District superintendent, and president of the Atlantic County Association of School Administrators, said the goal is to be proactive in determining what teachers, and all school professionals, need to know now and in the future.

"We want to define what skills they should have, then Stockton and the ETTC can offer the courses and workshops," she said. "It's the perfect relationship."