Professional Growth & Development

At King we strongly believe that a top quality Professional Growth and Development (PG&D) program is the cornerstone of our success.

Faculty members at King are talented, committed, knowledgeable, energetic, and passionate about their work. They understand that in order to be the very best, they must be lifelong learners as well as professional educators, and they know that the two are intimately linked.

It is in this spirit that King has developed a comprehensive, multi-dimensional, and systematic approach to Professional Growth & Development.

Below are some of the opportunities King Faculty have for Professional Growth & Development each year.

Graduate Study Assistance

King provides a program to support graduate study for Faculty. Since the inception of the program in 2005-2006, King faculty members have pursued graduate degrees at a variety of universities and colleges including the following institutions:

  • Bank Street College
  • Boston University
  • Columbia University
  • Fairfield University
  • Manhattanville College
  • Michigan State University
  • Middlebury College, Bread Loaf School of English
  • New York University
  • Penn State University
  • Sacred Heart University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Wesleyan University
  • Western Connecticut State University

Summer Sabbaticals

King established Summer Sabbatical grants for faculty in 2006. These grants were established to provide funding to support teachers who wish to explore topics and ideas and to develop their knowledge and expertise in a manner that will positively impact the work that they do with students at King. These grants are intended to ease the financial commitment that is generally associated with this sort of summer enterprise.

Each year, King awards four one-time Summer Sabbatical grants in late May or early June, to be used for work that summer. Summer Sabbaticals can consist of a wide variety of activities but not limited to: traveling, quietly studying and reflecting at a remote location, reading books connected to a new course, participating in volunteer work, developing a web site to manage an entire course, interviewing experts, and conducting research.

The Patricia A. McDermott Faculty Summer Sabbatical Grant
The McDermott Faculty Summer Sabbatical Grant is the fourth and largest Sabbatical grant and represents the highest honor we bestow on a teacher. The Sabbatical grant is presented each year to a member of the Faculty who propose doing significant academic-related work that will enhance their professional development and their contributions to the classroom.

RECENT Summer Sabbatical Recipients


Margie Farrell

Margie traveled to Argentina to immerse herself in the country’s culture, language, and history. She spent significant time, in particular, learning more about “Los Desparecidos,” the victims of the 1979-1982 Dirty War as well as studying various authors including Jorge Luis Borges.

Neuvi Villanueva

Neuvi traveled throughout South America exploring his own roots as well as learning more about the cultural and culinary delights of several of these countries. His experiences, with a focus on the diversity of ethnicities, religions, and languages will deepen his students’ understandings during their coursework.

Paola Grant

Paola participated in a renewal retreat, “Self Realization Fellowship Convocation” in California. With an emphasis on mindfulness, Paola will bring such “centering” techniques to her academic and yoga classes.

Patrick O’Neill (McDermott Award Recipient)

Patrick traveled to Ireland to study Irish independence and nationalistic movements. In particular, his research regarding the “Troubles” looks closely at transformation of communal identity in Northern Ireland, and he will investigate the old and new murals associated with the Troubles. This experience will further his understandings for the elective course he will introduce on this topic in the fall of 2017.


Jenna Temple

Jenna attended a wellness retreat in Arizona to reflect and renew. She focused on nutrition and eco-holistic therapy. This experience enabled Jenna time and opportunity to plan for the upcoming school year with a particular emphasis on developing the strategic plan for King’s Service Learning Program.

Susannah Branch

Susannah traveled to Spain and spent several weeks immersed in the culture. She had previously lived in Spain, and she expects to reignite her cultural connections and to deepen her fluency in such a way that only direct exposure to the country would enable. She looks forward to sharing the culture and the language with her students in the fall.

Shevon Morris

Shevon traveled to Venice, Italy to participate in the MOSE (Experimental Electromechanical Module) Project. This project focused on flood prevention as well as planning, design, and evaluation. This experience will further inform her PreK-5 science units with additional insight into meaningful engineering practices as well as problem-solving activities with regard to our region’s own challenges with flooding concerns.


Ran LaPolla

Ran is the creator of “Environmental Ant,” the featured character for her children’s book, website, and comics. This cartoon character, which has been a part of her life for many years, will further educate our Lower School students about environmental issues through a collaborative effort with our Lower School teachers, Karen Raidt, and Frank Barros.

Katie Tobin

Katie traveled to the Netherlands to participate in the 125th anniversary celebration of Vincent Van Gogh’s life. In addition to studying Van Gogh, Katie will learn more about other great Dutch artists and further her own appreciation and understanding of the historical significance and artistic inspiration of these great artists.

Lee Couch

Through coursework, travel, and research, Lee explored the spirit and meaning of mindfulness. Centered, in part, on the principles of medication, Lee is excited for to share strategies to help students, faculty, and staff further find balance and manage stress.

Michelle Sibrizzi

Michelle traveled to Hawaii to examine its unique ecosystems, rich biodiversity, marine habitats, and rainforests. In addition, Michelle studied the ongoing research devoted to biofuel and geothermal sources as well as the concerns associated with those organisms noted on the threatened and endangered lists.


Sonia Benedetto

Sonia traveled through Europe exploring several countries including Switzerland, Italy, Croatia, and Spain. Learning about the culture, history, diversity and geography of each of these countries helps Sonia enrich her “Stories Around the World” first-grade curriculum.

Debra Sands-Holden

Debra’s explored the Deep South in the United States to learn, first-hand, about significant places and people relating to both the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement. This experience reinforces the importance for all students of history to be active researchers. Debra brings back these lessons to her history classes.

Drew Schoudel

Drew kayaked with some of the most accomplished expedition sea kayakers in the world as they toured the Outer Hebrides, off the northwest coast of Scotland. This exploration included learning much about the unique marine life and cultural history of these islands. Drew expects that this trip will provide great examples of sustainable practices to share with his environmental science and oceanography classes. Drew is also in the process of proposing an expeditionary studies course.

Keeniun Brumskill (McDermott Award Recipient)

Keeniun’s exploration of Italy and Spain was inspired by his interest to learn more about the origins of the New World explorers and conquistadores and their impact on indigenous populations throughout North and South America. In that same spirit, Keeniun also focused much attention on “early” human rights activists including the Franciscan Friar Bernardino de Sahagun. Keeniun, as a history and Life Skills teacher and Associate Dean of Commiunity Affairs has ample opportunities to share these experiences with our students.

Faculty and Staff Workshops

In-House Faculty Workshops

Faculty members are committed to growth and development on a regular basis. Our teachers meet weekly to discuss best practices as aligned with our commitment to a student-centered approach that challenges our students to be their best.

In addition, King commits two full days and several half days to ongoing Professional Growth and Development throughout the year. In some cases, we invite a speaker to campus. Recent past speakers have included:

  • Erik Shonstrom, Creativity
  • Kristen Race, Mindfulness
  • Jennifer Bryan, Diversity
  • Alan November, Technology
  • Heidi Hayes Jacobs, Curricular Mapping
  • Marvin Worthy, Building and Sustaining Inclusive Communities
  • Alfie Kohn, Performance vs. Learning
  • David Levine, Empathetic Education
  • Eddie Moore, White Privilege
  • Jay McTighe, Understanding by Design

Individual and National Conferences

Each year King sends individuals and groups to dozens of conferences. Below is a listing of some of the workshops and conferences individuals have attended in recent years:

• National Council of Teachers of English – National Convention
• National Social Studies Convention
• National Council for the Teaching of Mathematics
• National Conference for Teachers of Science
• CAIS Beginning Teachers Institute
• Silvermine Art Courses
• Orff Certification Program
• Massachusetts College of Art Seminar
• The Harvard "Brain" Conference
• Harvard Mental Health Series Conference
• AP Training Courses
• American Library Association Conference
• Fairchester Fellows Program
• Connecticut Writing Workshop
• Foreign Language COLT Conference
• Chicago Institute on Student Behavior
• Teachers Against Prejudice Workshop
• The "Value of Play" Workshop
• Association of College Counselors in Independent Schools

Below are some examples of workshops and conferences where King has sent groups of teachers:
• Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Modern Languages
• National Association of Biology Teachers
• Rubicon Atlas Curriculum Mapping Training
• NAIS People of Color Conference (POCC)
• CAIS: Pieces of the Puzzle Conference
• Learning and the Brain Conference
• National Association of College Admission Counselors Convention
• New England Association of College Admission Counselors