Search This Blog

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Rock Hill High Band Boosters To Hold Fund Raiser

The Rock Hill High School Band Boosters will be having a golf tournament to raise funds for the band on June 10, 2010. Click here to get a form for playing in the tournament or to join the booster group.

Take the Hard Course

This time of year, 8th grade parents often tell me how hard it is for them to pick courses for their child's first venture into high school (the following year). They want their child to be prepared for college, but also want them to enjoy their high school years. I'm amazed they think the two cannot be done at the same time.

I tell them to take the toughest course they can, and only drop back if a B or high C is difficult to achieve. They are often misled into believing "College Prep" classes are challenging. Maybe they used to be, but in today's climate, that would be the minimum if they are thinking about college.

Kay McSpadden, an English AP teacher from York (and a Rock Hill Parent) usually has a comment in the Saturday Charlotte Observer. Today's column talks about the value of AP (or IB) classes and can be read by clicking here.


Equity and the value of AP

Kay McSpadden
Community Columnist

Sometimes it is true only in the movies that "if you build it, they will come." On the other hand, they can't come if you don't build it.

That summarizes the dilemma that Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools faces concerning Advanced Placement classes. The Equity Committee, a citizen advisory panel appointed by the CMS school board, presented a report this month that showed what it called "opportunity gaps" between high-poverty high schools and others in the system.

South Mecklenburg High, for example, offers 25 AP subjects, while Waddell offers just 10. The report recommends offering a set number of courses at each school and recruiting students to take them.

Solution not so simple

While the advisory panel's recommendations seem to offer equity, the solution isn't that simple.

As an Advanced Placement teacher in a high-poverty high school in South Carolina and the mother of sons who took AP courses, I understand both the educators' and the community's points of view. Advanced Placement classes are for most schools the "capstone" curriculum - the most challenging courses offered for students who have mastered foundational material for high school and are willing to take on the work of a college class. That extra work is usually rewarded with a weighted grade point average that can give students an edge in competing for selective colleges.

In the spring, students take AP exams administered by the College Board, and those scoring high enough receive actual college credit that transfers when they graduate from high school. Entering college with credits already on their transcripts means that students can finish earlier - an appealing prospect for parents who are footing a hefty tuition bill. (Though I would argue that students shouldn't rush through college - but that's another discussion.)

Offering AP courses is neither easy nor inexpensive for school districts, however. Each AP teacher must successfully complete coursework at a summer institute sponsored by the College Board. Each AP teacher must create a curriculum that the College Board vets and certifies. If a certified AP teacher transfers to another school, her certification goes with her - as does her curriculum.

AP's domino effect

AP courses are often "singletons" in a school's schedule, and if the AP enrollment is smaller than an average class size, the rest of the classes in that department are crowded with more students.

Since most schools are using block scheduling, the most successful AP courses - according to research by the College Board - are double-blocked so that they can meet all year long instead of in a single semester.

The criticism that American education is a mile wide and an inch deep is a valid one, and one that goes to the heart of the issues raised by the Equity Committee. Even the most ambitious student would be hard-pressed to fit in 10 AP courses in a high school schedule, much less 25. More importantly, offering many content-specific courses may not be as critical as offering students a deep immersion in a few - and trusting that investing the time and care in a deep immersion in a subject will teach them how to think about what they learn now and in the future more effectively than skimming lightly through many.

A recent study by the University of Texas bears this out. Researchers compared similar students who took either AP courses, dual credit classes offered in high schools in conjunction with two-year colleges, or regular college preparatory courses and found that AP students were far more successful in college than the other two groups. That means that students with the same SAT scores, from the same socioeconomic groups, and from the same cultural backgrounds taking even a single AP course versus any other type of courses did better in college - regardless of the score they made on the final College Board exam.

Cachet is valuable tradeoff

The reason isn't hard to figure. AP teachers are trained to teach to college expectations and have the time and resources to require students to learn to organize their time and develop a work ethic; the nationally normed test at the end of the course drives those expectations; and as the capstone of a high school, AP has a cachet that feels like a valuable tradeoff for the extra work load.

Ideally every high school class should push students to their greatest potential - students can and do get well prepared for work and college in classes other than AP classes.

School districts and their stakeholders need to recognize that expanding the number of AP offerings isn't the same thing as helping students succeed - and that students actively recruited into AP classes will need extra support, including double-blocking classes and offering pre-AP courses in middle school and up.

Then when the district has the resources to build more offerings, the students will come - and will do well.

Observer columnist Kay McSpadden is a high school English teacher in York, S.C., and author of "Notes from a Classroom: Reflections on Teaching." Write her

Friday, February 26, 2010

Rock Hill Schools Public Hearing Comments

The Rock Hill Schools Superintendent and Board Chair had a public hearing on the 2010-11 school budget at the Cotton Factory Thursday night. Some folks have a misconception of the problem and a distorted view of actual expenses. A couple of questions centered around turning off the lights (schools are too bright), fixing the heating/AC systems and selling equipment (activity buses, district office).

There is nothing wrong with those ideas, but the issues go much deeper. My comments:
  • Selling equipment is a one time deal. We must eliminate recurring expenses. This financial crisis is not just for this year - we already know we'll be an additional $5 million short for 2011-12, and worst case projections are we will not get to the 2007 funding level until 2016. With 85% of the budget tied up in salary, there is not much left but to eliminate jobs.
  • Here is how bad the financial crisis is - if we decided to shut off all electricity to the schools next year (not just turn off the lights), we'd still be $6 million dollars short.
  • As for saving on utilities, we already have an energy management system in place which monitors building temperatures, shuts down Heating and AC during times no one is present, and we have the most energy efficient florescent lighting available. I suppose we could turn off lights, but when we upgraded the lighting systems a couple of years ago, we went to the lighting level standard required for schools. If we go below that standard, what would our liabilities be?
The bottom line though, is people want to help. There are opportunities to reduce cost, save money, and increase revenue - and - with our district's 70,000 citizens watching - we will find a way through this.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

South Carolinians 4 Public Education


  • Did you know that by law the SC State Legislature is supposed to fund each student at a minimum base level determined by the state?

  • Did you know they have only done so eight of the last thirty-two years?

  • Did you know that in 2010 we expect the SC legislature to fund public school students at about 60% of what they should be funded by law?


Students who want to begin a career after high school need marketable skills and workplace experience. The SC State Legislature is underfunding classroom equipment and work-base programs.


The military has just released a study showing that many South Carolinians are unable to get into the military due to obesity and reading deficiencies. The SC State Legislature is underfunding school library, P.E. and athletic programs.


Winthrop gets only 13% of its funding from the state, and out-of-state tuition in North Carolina is about the same as in-state tuition in South Carolina. The SC State Legislature is underfunding colleges and

technical schools.


What we all want is a productive life for all South Carolinian's. We want reasonably paid jobs for reasonable work for the citizens and economic success for the state. All of that depends on education.

Education is fundamental.


Are you registered to vote? In November we elect a new Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Superintendent of Education, Attorney General and a number of state representatives. If you are not registered, pick up a form at the York County Library, the Department of Motor Vehicles, or the Board of Voter Registration in York.



  • VOTE



Contact your legislators.

Every member of the State Assembly votes on issues that affect you. You have the right to contact any of them, and many will consider what you say. The ones who represent you will listen most seriously.

By mail or telephone: Addresses and telephone numbers for the York County Legislative Delegations to the South Carolina General Assembly are at the end of this letter.

By e-mail: On the internet go to and click "Find your legislator." This is more difficult.

Do you want do more to help?


Our representatives receive a lot of correspondence. A short letter, e-mail or telephone conversation does have an effect,especially if it is in your own words. Each person who goes to the trouble to write is known to carry the views of many others who also vote. See below.

An Effective Letter

Dear Rep. (or Sen.)______:

Thank them for their public service.

Introduce yourself. I'm a homemaker, physician, teacher, parent of children in school...

Share what you want. Find a way to fund public education ...

Ask for feedback. Please let me know what your position is ...

Thank them for considering your thoughts.


REMEMBER, Public education is a worthy investment for public funds. We can invest now, or we can pay later for underfunding education by higher welfare and crime rates and lower productivity.

South Carolinians 4 Public Education

2227 Mancke Drive

Rock Hill, SC 29732

(803) 327-5237

Virginia S. Moe

South Carolinians


Public Education

Priority State Funding

Pre-K through 12 Public Schools

Community and Technical Colleges

State Universities

Here are the members of the 2010 York County Legislative Delegation to the SC State Assembly

Write any SC Senator at P.O. Box 142, Columbia, SC, 29202-0142

Write any House Member at P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, 29211-1867

(803)212-6180 Sen.Creighton B. Coleman

(803)212-6410 Sen.Robert W. Hayes, Jr.

(803)212-6024 Sen.J.Michael Mulvaney

(803)212-6430 Sen.Harvey S. Peeler, Jr.

(803)734-3074 Rep.F. Gregory Delleney, Jr.

(803)212-6873 Rep.John R. C. King

(803)734-3071 Rep.Herb Kirsh fax# 803-734-3342

(803)212-6874 Rep.Deborah A Long

(803)734-3073 Rep.Dennis C. Moss

(803)212-6888 Rep.Ralph W. Norman

(803)734-3040 Rep.J. Gary Simrill

News From The Rock Hill Schools For Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010

Laney Burris, District Three's coordinator of school safety/risk
management, has been selected as the 2010 Risk Professional of the Year by the S. C. chapter of the national Public Risk and Insurance Management Association (SCPRIMA). The award recognizes and honors a public sector risk manager who has effectively coordinated and operated a risk management program for a S.C. public entity. Laney coordinates the district's crisis management program and works with law enforcement
and administrators on providing safe environments for students and staff.
The first of three "Town Hall" meetings on the district's budget will be held at The Cotton Factory tonight (Thursday, Feb. 25, 2010 - 6PM). Bob Norwood, board chair, and Supt. Lynn Moody will listen to suggestions from the community on addressing the $9.4 million deficit.
On Saturday, February 27, 8-10 a.m., Ebinport's fifth-graders will partner with Fatz Cafe on Herlong for a pancake breakfast fundraiser.
The cost will be $7/adults and $4/children age 12 and under. Tickets can be purchased at Ebinport or at the door. For details, call 981-1550

On Tuesday, March 2, after school until 6 p.m., A jewelry show fundraiser for Phyllis Paden-Adams will be held at York Road Elementary. A huge selection of Premier Designs High Fashion Jewelry will be on display, including the new spring line. All profits will go toward Mrs. Paden-Adams medical expenses.

Rock Hill Schools and the City of Rock Hill will participate in the National Education Association's Read Across America celebration March 1-5. Mayor Doug Echols and a number of York County VIP's will read to classes within the schools to show their enjoyment of reading as an
adult. NEA's national reading celebration takes place each year on or near March 2, the birthday of Dr. Seuss. On this date the NEA calls for every child to be reading in the company of a caring adult.
Independence Elem. participated in St. Jude's Math-A-Thon and raised $1,133.77 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (school and youth program). This successful effort was led by April Ballard, receptionist, and Kirsten Hahn, math coach.

The students and staff at Ebinport Elem. raised a whopping $6,517.93 for the Haiti Relief Fund. The students worked really hard to raise money in honor of their day porter, Jean Gallette, who lost family members in the Haitian earthquake.

Rock Hill's Middle School Honors Choir To Perform Saturday

The Rock Hill School District Three

Middle School Honors Choir


The Second Annual

Middle School Honors Choir Concert

Saturday, February 27, 2010

2:00 p.m.

South Pointe High School Auditorium

Elizabeth Mixon, Director

Shelden Timmerman, Accompanist

No admission charge- Donations Accepted

Rock Hill School Superintendent Talks About Budget on WRHI's Straight Talk

Hear Superintendent Lynn Moody's comments on WRHI's Wednesday Straight Talk by clicking here.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Teacher Salary Scale Doesn't Match Results

The Harvard study of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School system reports that teacher pay does not match results. This would apply to just about every pay system in the country. Read the results by clicking here.

New Questions For The Rock Hill School District Budget Have Been Posted

New Questions and Answers to the Rock Hill School District's 2010-11 budget can be found by clicking here. The newest questions are found at the end of the document. New questions are added on Tuesday's and Friday's each week.

Monday, February 22, 2010

National Board Teachers Might Be Rock Hill School's Most Valuable Asset

The Monday Charlotte Observer reports a Harvard study of effectiveness in the Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, to be released on Tuesday, says "Advanced degrees and experience make little difference in student achievement. National Board Certification, a voluntary, credential that requires intensive work on classroom techniques, matters more."

Parents, when asked the question, would you want your child in a classroom with 35 students and a highly qualified teacher, or 20 students and a regular teacher, overwhelmingly picked the class with 35 students.

This may be too little, too late. The Rock Hill School District does not seem to be in step with the Harvard folks.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The 21st Century Classroom?

An interesting YouTube video:

You can make your own web page used by the student by clicking here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Rock Hill School Budget Information

Monday's Rock Hill School Board business meeting will be streamed over the internet. Go to the website for information or click link here, or clicking here.

The latest additions to Q&A on 2010-11 budget can be found here.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Rock Hill School Board February Business Meeting to be on Monday, February 22, 2010

A printable agenda can be found here. In what might be called, "The calm before the storm", there are no action items on the agenda for the February Business session. The Superintendent will go over some of the most commonly asked questions about the 2010-11 budget and the meeting will have a live stream on the internet (link will be posted on the district web site by Monday).

Meeting of the Board of Trustees

Monday, February 22, 2010

6:00 p.m. – District Office Board Room


I. Call to Order

Approval of Agenda

(Under consent agenda, all action items will be voted on after one motion and second to approve them without discussion. If a board member wants any action item discussed or voted on separately, the board member, before the agenda is approved, must ask that the action item be moved to the discussion item section.)

II. Citizen Participation

III. Special Business

A. Recognition of National Board Certifiers

B. Recognition of School Achievement

IV. Consent Action Agenda

A. Approval of Minutes

1. January 25, 2010 business meeting

2. February 8, 2010 work session

B. Approval of Personnel Recommendations

C. Approval of Overnight Field Trip Requests (3)

V. Communications

VI. Report of the Superintendent

A. Announcements

B. PASS Data Report

C. Federal Programs

D. Health Services Update

E. Financial Crisis Plan FAQ’s

VII. Review of Work Session

VIII. Action Agenda

IX. Other Business

X. Executive Session – Personnel Matter

XI. Adjourn

Rock Hill Schools Information for Feb. 18, 2010

Chris Beard, principal at Mount Holly Elementary School is one of three finalists for the Administrator of the Year award from the S.C. International Reading Assn. Chris will be honored on Feb. 20 during the annual SCIRA conference at Myrtle Beach.

Principal Sandra Lindsay-Brown and The Children's School at Sylvia Circle have been selectedas one of five finalists for S.C.'s most outstanding School Improvement Council.

Recipients of $250 grants from Family Trust Federal Credit Union;
Dawn Bradley, Independence Elementary School; Teresa Carlson, Rock Hill High School; Patricia Horn, Exceptional Student Education; Tina Infinger, Dutchman Creek Middle School; Kim Jolly/Marie Heckard, Parent Education; Kelli Passmore, Sunset Park Elementary School; Charlotte Robinson, The Children's School; Kim Simpson, Mount Holly Elementary School; Kathe Stanley, Northside Elementary School; Polli Vaughn/Gail Tanis, Flex Learning Center; Norma Nivens, Belleview Elementary School

The students and staff at Mount Holly Elemenatry School raised more than $2,226 in four days for the "Help for Haiti" fundraising drive.

Luci Vaden, a social studies teacher at Rawlinson Road Middle School has qualified to run in the 2011 Boston Marathon.

Rock Hill High School is asking for your vote! They are in a nationwide competition to receive a "free prom." Stumps Party is hosting a "50 States 50 Proms" contest, and RHH is now in first place in S.C. and a frontrunner in the nation. You can help by voting online by March 15 at
Employees at Family Trust Federal Credit Union donated $1,115 to Mayberry's project of supplying bedroom furniture to a family in need. Saundra Booker, sheriff of the town of Mayberry at Saluda Trail Middle School, wants to thank everyone who made a contribution and John Brown, owner of The Furniture Place on Cherry Road, which sold the furniture at cost.

Susan Williams, Autism Spectrum Disorders teacher at Sunset Park Elementary School, has been invited to speak at the Greater Georgia Autism Society of America Conference in Atlanta on March 1.

Sullivan Middle School is looking for the names of former students who are involved in exciting out-of-the-ordinary careers. An example would be Lauren Cholewinski, who's now on the U. S. Olympic Skating Team. Please send suggested names to

Mount Holly Elementary School has received two grants: $1000 from Cargill, Inc., for the purchase of physical education equipment and $2,000 from the Intermec Foundation for literacy materials.

Students in Leigh Anne Howie's Early Childhood Education class at the Applied Technology Center are hosting a community service project on Feb. 27 titled "Rock Out Hunger." The project includes a carnival and a talent show.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Three Town Hall Meetings Have Been Set To Discuss The Budget for Rock Hill Schools

Three "Town Hall" meetings have been scheduled for citizens to hear about the Rock Hill School district's proposed plans to address the $9.4 million budget deficit. Meetings have been scheduled on different dates and at different times so citizens can choose which suits them best. Superintendent Moody and Board Chair Norwood will conduct the meetings.

Each meeting should last an hour. The dates, times, and locations are as follows:

6:00 p.m. Thursday, February 25, at The Cotton Factory

7:00 a.m. Friday, March 5, at Durango Bagel

1:00 p.m. Thursday, March 11, at the Emmett Scott Recreation Center

Free Orchestra Concert This Saturday

On this Friday and Saturday, Feb. 19 and 20, 2010, the Rock Hill Schools District Honors Orchestra will hold its second weekend workshop and concert at Dutchman Creek Middle School. Over 90 auditioned sixth through twelfth grade students representing eight high schools and middle schools will participate. They will perform in concert at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday after rehearsing together Friday evening and Saturday morning and afternoon. Conducting the Senior High Orchestra will be Tom Hildreth, conductor of the Winthrop Chamber Orchestra, and the Middle School students will be led by Ann Chaffin, Director of Strings at Goose Creek High School in Berkeley County, SC. The concert is free and open to the public.

Monday, February 15, 2010

What Do Students Remember about teachers?

From the "Gladly Would I Teach" blog:

What Do Students Remember about teachers?

Posted in General on 15.02.10

If you're new here, you may want to subscribe to my RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

For the past two days, I have written about the loss of a good friend and inspirational teacher. I suspect I should write about a different topic today, but as most people can understand, most of my thoughts right now center around Ed and his students.

Ed’s facebook memorial page now includes over 850 members, and hundreds of current and former students have written beautiful notes to and about Ed. These notes are indicative of the true measure of a teacher. While education experts emphasize curriculum, instruction, and skills needed to pass state tests, the poignant notes on Ed’s memorial page illustrate that a teacher’s personality, compassion, and interest in students are the traits that students most remember.

What do Ed’s students in the past four decades remember about Ed?

  • He loved students, encouraged them, and believed in them even when they did not believe in themselves.
  • He had high expectations for himself and for others and never hesitated to correct them when he thought they were slacking off.
  • He loved his subject (drama, literature, and music) and was enthusiastic in sharing that love with students.
  • He gave the best hugs of all time! One person wrote, “When Mr. Deavers hugged it… was as if he was hugging your soul, he hugged as hard as he could and even though you probably couldn’t breathe, it was a good suffocation.”
  • He often stayed in touch with students even years after they left his classroom.
  • Ed had an infectious sense of humor.
  • He emphasized academics and required students to remembrer what they had learned. One student wrote about how Ed required students to recite famous passages from Julius Caesar whenever he pointed at them – in class, in the cafeteria, at a basketball game, etc.
  • He was an enthusiastic learner and reader.
  • In addition to being a memorable teacher, he was a wonderful friend to students.

One student who took Ed’s class over twenty years ago wrote, “Ed always said that he had to work harder than others because he would have a shortened life [because of Type I Diabetes].”

While Ed did indeed have a shortened life, oh, how he lived!

Do Poor Children Fall Behind?

The blog, School Gate has an interesting article on income and education. Click here for the link.

Yes, poorer children do fall behind, but parenting is key.


It's the parenting, stupid! As visitors to this blog will know, the influence of parents matters hugely in education. Research paper after research paper emphasises what a difference parents can make to their child's development. And this isn't only in an academic sense, but an emotional sense too. We parents can do such a lot, something which is often missed in the stress over school places and how much a child is actually learning in a school environment.

Today, many will be shocked by the Sutton Trust's latest report, showing that children growing up in the poorest families are already almost a year behind their richer peers by the time they are five. Others, although saddened by this information, will not be at all surprised. It's an issue which comes up over and over again.

Last week Ed Balls came into the office to answer questions about education. There were so many of them (over 300) that they couldn't all be published. Some of these were on the importance of parents when it comes to education. I mentioned this to the Secretary of State afterwards and he agreed that it was a problem. But it seems to be one that no one is quite sure how to address. It's seems very "nanny-state" to tell parents what to do with their own children, and although it often happens, it rarely seems to be targeted. Even though this is so clearly needed.

The new research reveals things which I didn't find very surprising (although that's not to say that I am not saddened by them). The poorest children tended to have younger mothers, for example. These mothers tended to have more children than their richer counterparts. Just under two thirds of the poorest children didn't live with both biological parents by the age of 5, over a third had parents who didn't have a single A-C grade GCSE, and only 23 percent of the poorest mothers were employed when their children were five, compared with 73 percent of the richest mothers.

But when it comes to education - and we are talking about five year olds here, so we are right at the beginning of "real" education - parenting style and the home environment came out as the most important factors explaining the cognitive differences. For example, the research showed that a child who is read to every day at age 3 has a vocabulary at age 5 that is 1.92 months more advanced than a child with what the Trust calls "exactly the same observable characteristics (including income group)", but who is not read to every day at age 3. Similarly, a child taken to the library on a monthly basis from ages 3 to 5 is predicted to score 2.53 months ahead of an observationally equivalent child who did not visit the library so frequently. However, just under half (45%) of children from the poorest fifth of families were read to daily at age 3, compared with 8 in 10 (78%) of children from the richest fifth of families. Rules about bedtimes were also less likely to be enforced in poorer families.

What a problem for modern society - and something so hard to deal with. Children should have opportunities, but how is it best to help them?

Figure 1. Mean developmental ages for 62-month old children on the BAS Naming Vocabulary test, by income quintile


Note: Quintiles are arranged in terms of mean before-tax annual income, ranging from £10,300 for quintile 1, to £20,200, £30,200, £42,900, and £79,500 for subsequent quintiles

When people try to get involved and change the likely outcomes for particular types of children, it's a minefield. You don't want to patronise, be accused of vilifying young mothers or told off for suggesting that it's better for children to have two parents, whether married or not.

Added to this is that those parents who seem to be doing all the right things - reading to their children, taking them to museums and libraries, trying to make sure they get enough sleep and feeding them a healthy diet - feel patronised when told what they think is obvious. We found a "snack swapper dial" in our son's book bag recently. It told us, for example, that instead of giving children sweets, we should try fruit, because it's better for them. Duh.

Class and money, those typically British issues, of course, rear their heads here. Middle class parents have got used to being criticised for taking their children to after-school classes and fussing over their schooling. But the so-called "pushy" parent is needed across the spectrum.

This government has very much tried to make a difference. There will be 3,500 Sure Start centres across the country by the end of the year - and helping families from the very beginning of their children's lives can really make a difference. But more, and different help is needed.

The Sutton Trust research out today says that parenting programmes are vital, and of course these need to be targeted. It also argues that the plans to allocate free nursery education to all 3 and 4 year olds should be "redirected" to 25 hours for 2-4 year olds from the most disadvantaged families. I think this is an excellent idea.

So, let's hope things can be changed, and that the issues can be looked at rationally, without accusations of class prejudice getting in the way. If we want a society where every child has an opportunity to succeed, we have to look at what may be holding them back. Parenting can really be key.

PS Everyone sees things in their own particular way. When I looked at this research, I was surprised to see that the achievement gap was so completely tied up with money. As you can see from the graph above, it's there right the way through. There's a huge gap between the richest and poorest, but also a considerable gap (at age 5!) between children whose family have middling incomes and those on high incomes. I can't see why this would be the case - unless you simply accept (and I don't) that the richest people are innately the cleverest....

Monday, February 8, 2010

Rock Hill Schools Administration Presented Board with $10 million dollars in Cuts.

To see a copy of Dr. Moody's Budget Presentation, click here.

To ask a question or leave a comment, email

Rock Hill School Board Member Mildred Douglas - In The News!

Pilot program gives kids netbooks
by Tiffany Lane
1 month ago | 603 views | 1 1 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Mildred Douglas shows off one of the new Dell Latitude 2100 ‘Netbooks’, a mini PC running Windows 7  that will be given to 240 students in early February.
Mildred Douglas shows off one of the new Dell Latitude 2100 ‘Netbooks’, a mini PC running Windows 7 that will be given to 240 students in early February.
MONROE - A free pilot program will put netbooks in the hands of 240 students by early February.

“Students in school now will be doing jobs that are not yet created,” said Mary Ellis, Union County Public Schools assistant superintendent for administration.

It’s the school system’s job to equip them for a global market, she said, beyond bubbling in test answers. “That’s what the state wants, and we’re going to do that, but we’re going to have to prepare them beyond that to collaboratively solve problems and to think.”

School officials say the computers will give teachers access to more information, train students for a technology-centered economy and provide interactive lessons that keep students engaged.

To test the program on different demographics and different sides of the county, UCPS chose 120 sixth-graders from Monroe Middle and 120 ninth-graders from Weddington High.

At just a couple of pounds, netbooks will include programs such as Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel, and give students access to both the Internet and the school system’s own software and applications. They can take the computers home after school.

Ellis said pilot students might be ahead of the curve, but hopes to see all sixth- through ninth-graders with computers soon.

Monroe, a year-round school, will start the program in January; Weddington will begin Feb. 8.


Training for the pilot, dubbed the “1:1 computer program” for individualized instruction, began in early fall with five Monroe Middle and four Weddington High teachers. Training is done virtually, off site and in the classroom about twice a week.

Teachers use tablets, but students will receive netbooks. As a partnership with Dell, the computers are free. Training is paid for by grant money.

At Monroe, the computers will be used for math, science, social

See NETBOOKS / Page 10A


Continued from Page 1A

studies and language arts; at Weddington, math and social studies.

During in-class training, Monroe Middle principal Montrio Belton said some students weren’t sure how to use the right clicker on the mouse or log on to Moodle, a Web application for online learning. Students are now learning computer lingo, such as “URL” and “download.”

Weddington High is already a wireless school; Monroe Middle is in the process.

Teachers as facilitators

Ellis said the computers will in no way replace teachers. They are another tool for teachers to use, Belton said, like notebooks, pens and calculators.

“The teacher is more important now than ever,” Ellis said, “but the teacher is a facilitator.” There will still be lectures and group projects, she added, but “this will be just about the end of whole group instruction.”

Director of Secondary Education Dana Crosson is a former principal of South Providence, an alternative school for students who have trouble in the traditional school setting. Students learn different ways and at different paces, she said, and computers are just one more way to give individualized instruction.

Many special-needs students are still “computer savvy” and interested in technology, Crosson said.

Discipline problems went down and attendance went up when the laptop cart rolled out at South Providence, she said.

Monroe teacher Mildred Douglas has taught for 41 years, but this is the first time she has used computers in class.

“I’m slowly moving into the technology world,” she said. “My children will not talk to me on the phone. I have to text them, and then I text them and say ‘Please, please, ... give me a call.’” Douglas recently learned how to pay her bills online and said the computer saves her time on lesson plans.

Using laptops in class will still be a challenge, she said, but she is open to learning with and from her students.

Computers will give her “more current information” and “instant feedback” on lessons, she said. Seeing 3D rotations and reflections on the computer will also be useful for her math students, she said, who won’t have to rely on her drawing skills.

When her own children went to college, Douglas said, the first thing they needed was a laptop, yet she isn’t quite ready to replace pencil sharpeners with wireless outlets.

“Am I going to give up paper and pencil? No. I think everything has a place.” Douglas said she wouldn’t be surprised if end-of-grade tests are online in coming years.


If a student went to the library to find a book on Senegal for a history lesson, Ellis said, there might be a couple of sources. The Internet, on the other hand, opens up hundreds of educational sites.

“We can create our own textbooks,” Weddington High principal Brad Breedlove said. It’s not just reading Web sites, either, he said, but activity-based learning through interactive sites like virtual labs. Virtual labs are also less expensive than real-life ones.

Breedlove is convinced the computers will be more of a learning enhancement than a distraction.

Ellis agreed, saying research shows that attendance and morale goes up and students’ perception of school is better when they are engaged — when technology is encouraged, not hindered.

David Clarke, a professional development coordinator for UCPS, said with fewer trips to the computer lab, it will also save instruction time. “You have your library with you,” Clarke said.

“Every classroom is a computer lab,” Belton said.

Teachers can project students’ computer screens onto SMART boards to show classmates their work.

Clarke said computers are also helpful for arts courses. As a former band director, he said, SmartMusic records students’ playing at home, shows how accurately they play the notes and lets them play with accompaniment.

Breedlove expects computers to be a classroom staple. “Three years down the road, it’ll be just like taking our textbook to school.”

Students without home Internet access

Monroe sixth-grader Cesar Reyes doesn’t have a computer at home, but prefers one to a pencil and paper. Why? “It’s a computer!” he said, pointing to a classroom netbook.

Reyes said he expects online assignments to be hard at first, but eventually more fun.

Classmate Kayla Hough already uses her home computer to play games and check Moodle.

Their teacher, Kamia Norman, said many of her students know how to use computers and find them easier to learn on.

As of this spring, Belton said just less than 50 percent of Monroe Middle students had Internet access at home. Only a handful more had home computers.

Until most students have Internet access most of the time, Belton said homework assignments won’t require it. Ellis said no grade will suffer for lack of home Internet access.

Mike Webb, assisistant superintendent for building services, added that students will still be able to access sites and assignments from anywhere on campus — the library, cafeteria or gym.

Web filters

As a former teacher, Ellis said “kids passed ugly notes and drew dirty pictures. ... I would take that up from them, but never one time did I say, ‘You can never use a pencil and paper again.’”

Any sites viewed on campus will be filtered through UCPS’ portal, Webb said. As long as students are using the portal at home, he added, that content will be monitored. Still, he said it’s impossible to block everything, and if a student plugs in a hard wire while at home, it becomes the parents’ responsibility.

In class, students off task can be spotted by a flashing light on the top of the computer. It will flash, for example, if the student goes to a Web site to which he is not assigned.

Teachers can see students’ screens from their own and use that function to watch students work through problems.

Future costs

The pilot program is free only through the spring semester. Webb said UCPS is negotiating costs to see how much it will cost past that.

In the meantime, with no need for multiple computer labs, Belton said he won’t need as many mobile classrooms, saving the school money.

Stopping in the hallway, Belton dropped a netbook three times, then turned it on to show its durability. If computers are damaged, Webb said, UCPS will try to repair them. If they are damaged again, parents will have to pay a fee.

Still, Ellis said computers could come out to be cheaper than textbooks, some as much as $150. Pilot students can download their chapters instead, also saving them from back aches.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Class

This is from Lynn Schofield Clark’s Innovation in Mass Communications class at the University of Denver. If you are a fan of The Office, you will appreciate this.
I found this on the Digital Ethnography blog site.

Pre-School Test


Which way is the bus below traveling?
To the left or to the right?

Can't make up your mind? Look carefully at the picture again.
Still don't know?

Pre-schoolers all over the United States

were shown this picture and asked the same question.
90% of the pre-schoolers gave this answer.
"The bus is traveling to the left."

When asked, "Why do you think the bus is traveling to the left?"

They answered:

Because you can't see the door to get on the bus."

Blog Archive


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon