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WILTON — Officials from BOCES this week unveiled a new teacher training center for Warren, Washington, Saratoga, Essex and Hamilton counties.

While the highlights include finally having enough space for large professional development programs, which previously were held in hotels, the changes are apparent from the moment a visitor opens the door.

“We’re really proud of our reception area because, at our old site, we didn’t have one,” said WSWHE BOCES Executive Director Turina Parker. “You just walked in, and good luck.”

The visitor would be left to guess where to go.

Now there’s a desk with two pleasant guides.

But for many training sessions, teachers will no longer have to take a day off and drive to Wilton.

There is now a room set up with large screens, two cameras and wireless microphones so that a trainer can teach while the teachers watch from their home schools.

Turina has already used the room to teach harassment prevention courses, which are now required annually by state law.

“I can teach here, and teachers can attend and not leave their district,” Turina said. “Now they don’t have to miss half a day.”

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Video conferencing is also built into several administrative offices, and workers have fallen in love with it, especially in a district that stretches from Essex to Saratoga county.

“It’s just so functional,” Turina said. “We can’t waste time. You can have a meeting in Saratoga, but you can’t waste a whole day.”

The facility also has large conference rooms with removable walls, becoming as many as 16 small rooms or one huge room for 340 attendees.

When the BOCES hires national speakers, who draw in hundreds of teachers, they used to rent a hotel conference room.

Now they can use their own facility, which costs much less. They’ll use it soon for a speaker on copyright issues — a subject important to teachers who want to copy items for their students.

The new building also has an active-learning lab, where teachers learn how to use new technology. That’s where they learn to assemble robots and fly drones, among other technology. BOCES also loans the equipment to teachers who want to use it in their classes.

The old school support services site was also in Wilton, on Gick Road. The lease was ending after 20 years, and officials decided to look elsewhere because they needed more space. They settled on a Ballard Road building that had 3,500 more square feet than the 17,500-square-foot building on Gick Road. After a complete renovation, the building officially opened Wednesday.

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You can reach Kathleen Moore at 742-3247 or kmoore@poststar.com. Follow her on Twitter @ByKathleenMoore or at her blog on www.poststar.com.

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