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R-1 School Board receives A+ update

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Monett R-1 Board of Education received reports on the high school's A+ program and the district's technology program during the board's December meeting.

A+ program

An evaluation of the A+ program was submitted by the A+ Action Team. The team includes science teachers Melanie Mayberry and Kara Tinklepaugh, math teacher Joni Reed, Spanish teacher Sheri Depee and English language learners instructor Tamara Stadter. Assistant Principal Don Tuck and A+ secretary Leslie Renfro analyzed the annual data and collaborated on the report.

Interest in A+ is high with more than 48 percent of students enrolled in it. Approximately 40 percent of 2011 seniors are on track to qualify for A+ benefits upon graduation. In the last three-and-a-half years, students have received more than 6,500 hours of tutoring and mentoring from A+ participants.

Tuck told the board he would like to see a more aggressive effort to inform students and parents about the program. A+ offers free tuition to any community college or technical school for up to six semesters for those who finish the program.

Tuck would like to see participation increase further and to reactivate the A+ Advisory Council. Funding concerns exist since the Division of Higher Education took over the program from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education.

The program could benefit from having a yearly identified budget, Tuck said. He also recommended having a half-time A+ coordinator who could concentrate efforts and generate more enthusiasm and structure to the program.

Technology

Director of Technology Jerry Swadley reviewed the technology department's efforts to provide and support computers and innovative equipment to enhance learning. Staff reviewed training reports, the census of technology resources and 2,000 incidents in a six-month period to make its recommendations.

Student interest has increased with the use of new technologies. Teachers have become more comfortable using new systems and equipment because of professional development training offered by the district.

Swadley said the program SchoolDude has helped to organize the technology staff. Support from the administration also has been helpful. Wireless Internet coverage has increased.

To improve the program, Swadley saw the need for more technology in the primary grades, more Internet bandwidth and replacement of aging technology. He saw several staffing needs, including having a staff technology person just for primary grades, an administrative assistant for the technology office, more training for administrators and teachers and more time for teachers to use technology so they can teach students how to use it.

Technology training

Melody Paige updated the board on her efforts to prepare faculty and administrators to use new equipment and systems and to apply it in teaching. In November, Paige noted administrators took different roles and looked at the district's website as a source of information. Ideas were shared on how to make the website more helpful and interesting.

In December, the Netchemia company offered a demonstration on how building administrators could use laptops, iPads or smart phones to record information. The products could assist in organizing data for state reports or teacher evaluations.

Training sessions during the same period focused on using different devices, such as flip cameras, classroom performance system clickers and SMART notebooks. Teachers were given time to experiment and design activities

Paige said 38 educators participated in a three-hour session reviewing SMART Ideas graphic organizing software and how to use it as a tool to organize thinking. Another session focused on sharing information.

As an example of applied technology, Paige reported that Kerry Tinklepaugh, the high school's Miss Merrie Christmas, created a video shown at the Christmas assembly using iMovie software.



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