Schools looking at technology initiative in 2010

First Posted: 12/30/2009

As 2010 begins, the Mount Airy City Schools is looking seriously at a technology initiative for students.
Dr. Darrin Hartness, superintendent, has presented information to the Board of Education at the past two meetings about implementing iPod Touches in the schools.
At the December board meeting Hartness addressed the board about the advantages of implementing iPod Touches and gained the members support to move forward with the plan.
This addresses six of our existing board goals that you established, he said. I can see a lot of different things coming out of this.
The school system decided to identify 57 teachers in fifth through ninth grades who would receive a laptop and an iPod Touch. These teachers will undergo three days of staff development this spring and three days this summer to learn how to use the equipment and how to implement it into their lesson plans.
I think the big strength of this outline is the number of students it touches, said Hartness at the meeting. This can also have a big impact on economic development in our community.
What this could do is elevate the whole. This gives us another way to enhance that knowledge, said Tim Matthews, board vice chairman, at the meeting.
The school system is looking forward to a full implementation of the Positive Behavior Support model this fall. B. H. Tharrington Primary School and J. J. Jones Intermediate School have implemented the program with success and Mount Airy Middle School and Mount Airy High School have been looking at different models to determine how best to implement the model as well. Every school has had training for PBS with the third and final module of the training coming Aug. 10 and 11, and this fall they should all be using the model, creating a standard of expected behavior throughout the school system.
Now we will speak a common language when it comes to behavior issues, said Vickie Cameron, executive director of instruction. We have to work with this with children in all areas.
The school system also is looking to continue implementing personal education plans (PEP) for students, which started in the fall of 2009.
PEPs include benchmark testing, end of grade test results and classroom data for every subject for every student through eighth grade. High school students who are struggling learners also have PEPs. However, the high school plans are set up differently because of the schedule differences and the fact that they are with different teachers throughout the day.
With this we are able to set up strategic learning plans with specific interventions for you so we will know were bringing our children to the highest level possible, said Cameron. Weve gone over these with the parents at parent-teacher conferences.
Every high school parent also was invited to the high school for a conference this school year, something that is new. The school system is looking forward to continuing these plans to help every student excel in the classroom.
According to Hartness, the school system is looking at ways to give students from pre-K through 12th grade the opportunity to learn leadership skills. Students in upper grades are given opportunities to do this through a number of activities including things like student government. However, the school system is looking to expand that to kindergarten and pre-K students as well.
Throughout the past year the school system officials say they have placed an emphasis on customer service and Hartness hopes to see that continue into 2010. This includes not only students and their parents but also members of the community as well. The school system has sent out surveys to the parents of new students asking what has worked, what has not worked and what the school system needs to improve on and plans to review that data to learn how to better serve the children and the community.
Contact Morgan Wall at [email protected] or 719-1929.

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