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Professional Development Beyond the Classroom

Shady Side Academy's faculty and administration moved beyond the typical boundaries of teacher in-service day training on April 1, embarking on an immersive learning journey. The program, designed to enhance educators' abilities to foster student learning outside the traditional classroom, marked a departure from conventional professional development sessions. This innovative initiative, designed to bolster educators' ability to cultivate student learning experiences outside conventional settings, underscored the Academy's commitment to holistic education.

Chief Talent Recruitment & Development Officer, Armani Davis, partnered with a diverse group of over 20 industry leaders and pioneers for this inaugural opportunity, including Duolingo, Dick’s Sporting Goods, Aurora, the Pittsburgh Penguins, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, The Mattress Factory, and many others. Groups of teachers were paired with an organization, where they spent several hours learning about their mission, values, and challenges. In the afternoon, faculty groups engaged in reflective discussions, contemplating key takeaways from their experiences and their implications for Shady Side Academy's immersive programs.

Notably, communication skills emerged as a paramount trait sought after by employers, emphasizing the importance of effective verbal and written expression, collaboration, and information dissemination. Beyond conventional qualifications such as content knowledge, college degrees, or work experience, organizations expressed a preference for candidates demonstrating social-emotional skills such as curiosity, critical thinking, and adaptability. Employers underscored the value of individuals who exhibit a thirst for learning and a willingness to embrace challenges.

During closing remarks, President Bart Griffith ’93 summarized the day: "Today's work and your experiences this morning are part of a multitude of efforts to ensure that Shady Side and the people that make up our community can stay connected with the kinds of environments, organizations, companies, services, and industries that our students very likely will inherit and carry forward."

The day served as a manifestation of Shady Side Academy’s mission and strategic vision, allowing faculty and administration to deepen their understanding of the regional workforce and further enhance efforts in developing students' skills, mindsets, and real-world learning experiences that will prepare them to become the ethical, humane leaders of tomorrow.

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