Professional Development Program


Professional development activities take many forms in our school district and draw on knowledge, skills, perspectives, talents and contributions of K-12 educators locally, regionally, and nationally. Professional development focuses on the knowledge and skill our instructional staff needs to create high levels of learning for all students. The district’s Professional Development Committee will ensure opportunities that provide appropriate professional growth for its employees.


The vision of Polson School District Professional Development Plan is that all employees will be offered and engage in continuous professional growth opportunities that enable them to improve their ability and skills.


The mission of the Professional Development Program at Polson School District is to improve student learning by supporting professional development activities that are closely related to the work of teaching and the process of learning. Based on current research studies, professional opportunities will be provided to all employees that positively impact student achievement, effectively meet the needs of adult learners, and enhance the skills needed to successfully perform their responsibilities.


We believe all employees…

  • Engage in the endeavor of student learning.
  • Can improve their knowledge base, performance skill level, and their commitment to the profession.
  • Are life-long learners.
  • Provide effective support that offers learning opportunities.
  • Engage in professional development that is sustained, intensive, continuous, and job embedded.
  • use self-assessment and reflection as an integral part of professional growth and improvement 


Professional development in Polson School District has three structures that guide and inform activities.

Thefirst of these is the District’s Goals and Action Steps, which currently consists of 3 long-range goals:

  1. 95% of all students will achieve proficiency in Reading and Math as measured by STAR assessment by 2018.
  2. Polson School District will be a “Lighthouse District” of excellence in Montana.
  3. All students will be prepared to graduate so they may obtain meaningful employment or a post-secondary education.

A second structure that guides professional development activities consists of each school’s plan. Each school develops a plan that is tailored to specific school and staff learning needs as they relate to the district’s Goals and Action Steps.

A third structure that guides professional development primarily at the school level are the goals set by staff through the district’s evaluation process.

Professional development for Polson instructional staff takes many forms, all supported by current research on adult learning. The district may offer the following professional development activities:

  • training programs (workshops/conferences/on-site presentations);
  • action research projects, individual and peer groups;
  • in-depth topic-focused study groups/cadres
  • peer coaching/observation;
  • self-assessment using journals or learning logs
  • continuous improvement project ( IE: curriculum teams)
  • university course work
  • webinars or on-line course work 


William Appleton, Dir. of Curriculum
Carl Elliott, Dir. of HR/IT
Rex Weltz. Principal
Jesse Yarbrough, Administrator
Jennifer Seifert, Teacher
Patricia Barfoot, Teacher
Mary Larson, Teacher                        


  • Make recommendations for a high quality, continual professional development program which is responsible to participant needs and focused on student achievement and adult learning.
  • Maintain a 3-year plan for continued professional development based on the focus of the district.
  • Assist with planning and designing activities that meet the needs of the district’s employees.  
  • Review the impact of the program and make modifications to ensure quality and access.


Based on survey results, analysis of student data, and perceived educational needs of the District, the Professional Development Committee offers the following topic areas and accompanying sub-topics that will guide the district’s selection for professional development activities during this 3 year period:

  1. Demonstrate high expectations for student learning
  • use of student assessment and data to guide instruction
  • implementing  State Curriculum Standards and Common Core Standards to classroom instruction
  • eliminating the achievement gap of subgroups
  • provide appropriate, evidence-based interventions for all learners through RtI/MTSS.
  • use Professional Learning Communities as the foundation for enhanced instruction
  • continued development of Indian Education for All
  1. Demonstrate effective instructional practices through:
  • Differentiation
  • Interventions
  • Current best instructional strategies
  • Curriculum content


Although there are many elements of professional development, the yearly school calendar indicates specific days established for professional development. Some of those days are designated for site level planning, while others are the responsibility of the district’s Professional Development Committee. An individual’s request for participation at an additional professional development activity requires the submission of a form identifying the activity, requests funding, and a leave request if needed.

Educators seeking additional professional development opportunities are encouraged to seek assistance from the District’s or Site’s Professional Development Committee, or their site administration. License renewal credit can be offered for most professional development activities.

In many cases, participants at an off-site conference may be requested to share the knowledge gained with his/her peers. Thus, a trainer-of trainers model promotes the implementation of best practices as appropriate.

At the completion of all professional development opportunities, evaluations may be conducted to monitor the success and efficiency of each opportunity.

At the completion of all professional development opportunities (in-house offerings and off site workshops) evaluations will be conducted to monitor the success and efficiency of each opportunity.


Adopted June, 2006
Amended Jan. 10, 2011
Reviewed and amended Nov. 6, 2012
Reviewed and amended Nov. 3, 2015