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Our “Best of the Blogs” section includes thoughtful insights on school leadership being shared through blogs maintained by AASA members. This representative sampling of five bloggers, through an RSS feed, will change periodically to showcase other member blogs, so check back regularly. If you are aware of others, contact magazine@aasa.org.

  • Congratulations Rachel Lin, Newly Elected SMOB

    Superintendent's Corner: Fulfilling the Promise of Preparation|4/23/2015

    Join me in congratulating Rachel Lin who has been elected the new Student Member of the Board for the 2015–2016 school year. Lin is currently a junior at Howard High School. Rachel brings leadership experience from several elected positions as part of Howard High School’s Student Government Association as well as several other student organizations […]

  • Getting your Thoughts

    Superintendent's Blog|4/23/2015

    The following article was written for the Lethbridge Herald and published on April 22, 2015. In the past, schools and school divisions have typically been very good at communicating to parents, students and the general community. This communication, by and large, includes simple information that stakeholders need to know. Events like parent teacher interviews or other special …

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  • Why BYOD Is Essential in the 21st Century Classroom

    Superintendent's Corner: Fulfilling the Promise of Preparation|4/22/2015

    Collin Sullivan is a Long Reach High School Senior and presents regularly at BYOD and Educational Technology Gatherings hosted by the HCPSS Office of Instructional Technology.  Collin was a strong student voice during the BYOD pilot program and continues to advocate for continued use of technology in the classroom. Last school year, the HCPSS launched […]

  • The future of STEM in Sylacauga City Schools

    College, Career, Community|4/20/2015

    I recently had the privilege of touring Southern Alloy located on Highway 280. It quickly became evident how important science and math skills are to every facet of metal fabrication. More importantly, I saw how important it is for schools to make connections between what we teach and why it matters in the “real world”.

    Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) careers are growing at a rapid pace. The Department of Commerce estimates that the number of STEM-related jobs will grow 17% by 2018 compared to 9.8% for all other fields. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has concluded that “STEM occupations are…viewed as having some of the best opportunities for job growth in the future”.

    Our challenge is to ensure that what we teach matters, and motivates students. According to Vince Bertram, President and CEO of Project Lead the Way, “twenty-eight percent of high school freshmen declare an interest in STEM-related fields each year, but some fifty-seven percent of them will lose interest over the course of their high school careers”.

    Changing this mindset requires looking at brain development in a different way. Instead of "putting in" information, learning must be about "pulling out" the abilities, interests, and skills within each student. In Sylacauga City Schools, we are determined to make this happen with engaging STEM opportunities.

    Project Lead the Way is a nationally recognized STEM program focusing on project-based learning using real world situations. This year, students in grades 6-8 could participate in PLTW and high school students could take pre-engineering courses. Next year, we will offer additional higher level pre-engineering classes at SHS and fifth grade students will participate in Project Lead the Way.

    Healthcare is one of the top employers and a targeted industry in our region. To be aligned with this workforce trend, last year we began a health sciences program at Sylacauga High School. Next year, we will enhance our focus in healthcare by adding a biomedical sciences program, which will complement our Advanced Placement courses in biology and chemistry.

    Despite its importance, the Brookings Institute says that one of the largest decreases in STEM career choices over the last decade was in computer and information sciences. Exposing students to this career field is extremely important. SHS offers Computer Science classes that focus on programming, development of apps, and computational thinking. They are also participating in a National Science Foundation project to design an Advanced Placement computer science course. This summer, SHS will hold a camp that will focus on coding, website development, advanced HTML, and introduction to computer science. Next year, we will also expand our opportunities to learn coding to all Pinecrest students through a new enrichment program.

    STEM learning opportunities are successful when accompanied with high quality professional development, tools, and resources for teachers. Next year, science teachers at Nichols-Lawson will begin implementation of the Alabama Math Science Technology Initiative. Several teachers will be training on implementing Project Lead the Way. Math teachers will be working together on developing innovative strategies to engage students. Teachers and administrators are participating in the Alabama Education Technology Association conference in Birmingham and the CORE conference at Jacksonville State University.

    Our mission to prepare our students for college, career, and community success is most achievable when we provide learning opportunities that best equip them. STEM; arts and humanities; and career and technical programs work together to fulfill that mission. Indeed, learning is most impactful when our students see its value upon entering the college and career world. Our measure of future success will be defined by the quality workforce ready to be employed by the many industries that depend on STEM-related skills.

  • A Senior’s Advice to Incoming Freshmen

    Superintendent's Corner: Fulfilling the Promise of Preparation|4/17/2015

    Candace Okumko is a senior at Oakland Mills High School who will be attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the fall of 2015. She plans to major in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering.   High school is disorienting. As a freshman, I walked through the halls of Oakland Mills in a tizzy; being […]

  • Budget 2015

    Superintendent's Blog|4/16/2015

    Those who know me well understand that I’m more of a glass half full than half empty person but, I also tend to shoot from the hip as much as possible. So in giving this update I hope to stay true to both of those qualities. I’ll begin by recognizing the government for three positives …

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  • President Thomas Jefferson's Birthday

    Rebel 6 Ramblings|4/12/2015

    Few American presidents are as complex as Jefferson nor do they invoke as much debate over their respective places in history. While arguments abound over his morals, particularly in regards to slavery, there is little doubt about his intellectual superiority for the time, and his gift of writing for the ages.

    April 13 marks the birthdate of President Jefferson, a date that is encoded in federal law:

    36 U.S. Code § 141 - The President shall issue each year a proclamation—
    (1) calling on officials of the United States Government to display the flag of the United States on all Government buildings on April 13; and
    (2) inviting the people of the United States to observe April 13 in schools and churches, or other suitable places, with appropriate ceremonies in commemoration of Thomas Jefferson’s birthday.
    While best known for drafting the Declaration of Independence, he was a prolific writer on many topics, including education:
    Jefferson understood that freedom depends on self-government: the cultivation of self-reliance, courage, responsibility, and moderation. Education contributes to both the knowledge and virtues that form a self-governing citizen. By proposing a bill in Virginia that would have established free schools every five to six square miles, Jefferson sought to teach “all children of the state reading, writing, and common arithmetic.” With these skills, a child would become a citizen able to “calculate for himself,” “express and preserve his ideas, his contracts and accounts,” and “improve, by reading, his morals and faculties.” 
    Jefferson viewed this basic education as instrumental to securing “life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness” for Americans because it helps an individual “understand his duties” and “know his rights.”
    In one of his writings, a "Bill for the More General Diffusion of Knowledge," Jefferson noted that education in general is important to guarding against tyranny:
    ...experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms, those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny; and it is believed that the most effectual means of preventing this would be, to illuminate, as far as practicable, the minds of the people at large, and more especially to give them knowledge of those facts, which history exhibiteth, that, possessed thereby of the experience of other ages and countries, they may be enabled to know ambition under all its shapes, and prompt to exert their natural powers to defeat its purposes ... whence it becomes expedient for promoting the publick happiness that those persons, whom nature hath endowed with genius and virtue, should be rendered by liberal education worthy to receive, and able to guard the sacred deposit of the rights and liberties of their fellow citizens, and that they should be called to that charge without regard to wealth, birth or other accidental condition or circumstance...
    At the very least, folks should take time to better understand one of our greatest presidents and a good place to start is right here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Jefferson. After all, debate is only purposeful when it comes from learned minds.



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