EDCOE Team Member Spotlight - MaryJo Verbitsky
07:47 AM - April 03, 2020
Interview with MaryJo Verbitsky
Briefly describe your background (where you grew up, family, why you came to work for EDCOE).
I was born in Fairfield, California, but lived in Reno, Nevada, until I was 10 when my mother, brother and I moved to Placerville. After graduating from El Dorado High School, I returned to Reno to attend UNR and then returned home to finish my degree at California State University, Sacramento. My husband and I are very grateful to have raised our two children here. We are now empty nesters and enjoy visiting our daughter, first in New Orleans and now in Dallas, and our son who lives in San Diego.
I came to work at EDCOE after a parent of a student I had served in my preschool class encouraged me to explore a teaching opportunity in a program that EDCOE was providing for parents choosing to homeschool their students. Charter schools were not yet a reality and the program was part of EDCOE’s Community School. I did as she suggested and have been here ever since.
What is your department, title, and how long have you worked for EDCOE?
I currently serve in the Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Accountability (CI&A), and I am a Coordinator of Professional Development. This is my 28th year at EDCOE. For my first 22 years I was fortunate enough to be a teacher with Charter Home Study Academy where I worked with families and students seeking an alternative to traditional school. I am in my sixth year as a member of team CI&A.
Describe how your role helps support programs/schools/students directly or indirectly.
As a coordinator on the CI&A team, my role is to support educators at all levels, from early learning professionals to school and district administrators. As we learn more about how to refine educational experiences to develop and optimize the assets of all learners, educators need to have the opportunity to come together and share how to integrate these ideas and resources into the good work that is already being done. We facilitate a variety professional learning opportunities and experiences that support this important work. These opportunities include new teacher induction, supporting the integration of standards into curriculum and curriculum implementation and providing support for several other initiatives that focus on creating and sustaining optimal conditions for teaching and learning in schools.
What are you and your team doing to support education in El Dorado County during the COVID-19 closures?
Our department is currently gathering data from districts about the current needs of administrators, teachers and students, as well as projected needs, if the closure of physical sites is extended and we move to a long term distance learning model. This data will help inform the focus of our work and the development of professional learning moving forward.
Our team is working to reassure the over 200 new teachers and their Mentors served in the EDCOE Teacher Induction Program (TIP) that we are committed to supporting them as they work to meet Induction requirements in their new teaching context. We monitor information from CTC daily and modify requirements as permitted. For many of the new teachers, this is their last year in Induction and they are very close to earning that clear credential. They are experiencing stress on many levels and we are doing everything that we can to remove barriers and reduce anxiety.
Several of us attended sessions at the Computer-Using Educators (CUE) Conference the past two weeks to learn about instructional technology, tools and resources that may be helpful to our teachers and students as we rethink teaching and learning. For the first time, the conference was held virtually over a variety of different platforms. We learned some pretty exciting strategies and are looking forward to sharing them when the time is right.
What do you most appreciate about your department/team?
There is so much that I appreciate about our team. First and foremost, they are genuinely good people. They are thoughtful and kind, and we really like each other as people. We often view the same situation through very different lenses and are not shy about sharing our different perspectives. But because we respect and care for each other, our differences make us stronger rather than divides us and we usually arrive with a better solution or product. We all approach our work with a great sense of responsibility to each other, the department and the organization, but, we also like to laugh and have fun. As you all know, this is really important when we all work as hard as we do.
What is your proudest moment at EDCOE? Why?
I can’t think of one moment as the proudest moment. I feel proud any time someone shares that they found something we said or did useful or helpful to them.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
In my spare time I like to spend time with my family and/or garden.
What is something many people may not know about you?
People may not know that I teach online courses for CSU East Bay in the Department of Educational Leadership. In that role I guide graduate students who are conducting educational research to earn Masters of Science in Educational Leadership. Because the program is all online, I have the opportunity to work with educators in schools all over the world, so I learn a lot about educational systems in other countries.
From supervisor, Gabrielle Marchini, Director of Curriculum, Instruction, and Accountability:
MaryJo is an essential member of our team. She has extensive experience in so many different “classroom” settings, that she is always able to provide valuable perspective for us to consider as we discuss potential training for teachers. She has worked with the home study program where parents played a significant role; she teaches with a university online; she is one of our leaders of our Teacher Induction Program where she runs seminars using Zoom for large groups of new teachers; and, she has taught many grade levels and across content areas. We rely heavily on this background at CIA! I think that MaryJo’s best quality is her commitment to doing things in the best way possible while using her valuable background experience to ensure that the content is presented in the best possible way for the learner. She will remind us to pause and think about the learner experience (including if he/she is “ready” for learning). I love this about her—we count on it to keep us grounded in the work.