Catholic publisher Sophia Institute Press has announced a new undertaking to help train school teachers and to provide free, high-quality teaching materials and support. “Young people are less catechized than they were 20 or 30 years ago,” Charlie McKinney, Sophia Institute president, said April 16. “School teachers are burdened and over-worked, and all too often fail to find the training and materials they want.” McKinney said the Sophia Institute for Teachers aims to provide Catholic educators with “the faithful, high-quality training and materials they crave.” The new non-profit initiatve provides teacher training programs, lesson plans, and ongoing advice and support to teachers and schools; the materials and programs are free of charge. The free materials include lessons connecting the faith to current events, lessons on liturgical life, and primary source documents on the faith. Sophia Institute for Teachers has already partnered with three dioceses. It has several training events scheduled for hundreds of teachers in the Los Angeles and Philadelphia archdioceses, as well as in the Diocese of Manchester. McKinney said the numbers of teachers already participating in the program and the program’s relationships with several dioceses shows that it is providing “a much-needed service.” Veronica Burchard, Sophia Institute’s vice president for education programs, said that the teacher training programs have a structure that is “absolutely unique in Catholic K-12 education.” In addition to catechetical training, the Sophia Institute program provides teaching strategies to help them apply their new knowledge to the classroom. “As an added bonus, they receive classroom-ready instructional materials on core teachings of the Church, as well as regular, ongoing guidance and help,” Burchard noted. Sophia Institute has also launched a Catholic Curriculum Exchange to provide free one-day lesson plans on many topics for primary and secondary teachers. Burchard described the exchange as a “crowd-sourcing” effort to develop best practices; teachers can upload their research activities, assessment tools, student exercises and other materials for other teachers to download and use. “Good teachers are always innovating and creating new resources for their students,” Burchard said. The Sophia Institute for Teachers program is donor-supported. McKinney said the program expands “as quickly as funds are made available.”
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