|January 07, 2010||Tupelo schools will be open Friday...and why the district made a late decision Thursday morning||3 comments|
|December 17, 2009||Hill not chosen for Birmingham job||no comments|
|December 13, 2009||Fred Hill finalist for Birmingham job||no comments|
|December 03, 2009||Updates from North Carolina||1 comments|
|December 01, 2009||Learning more about computers for students||no comments|
|November 30, 2009||Welcome to Education Matters||2 comments|
Tupelo Superintendent Randy Shaver said Thursday night that the district's schools will be open on Friday.
Shaver said that the streets, parking lots and bus routes are in good condition and he couldn't justify closing school.
Because it is a city school district, there are fewer bridges, low-lying places or overpasses where ice would accumulate, Shaver said. Historically, the district’s biggest trouble spot is the big curve near the high school on Cliff Gookin Boulevard, and Shaver said that it was clear of ice Thursday night.
Shaver also explained why the district made a late decision to close school Thursday morning.
Around 6:15 on Thursday morning, parents and teachers in the Tupelo Public School District received a call from the district's automated phone system telling them that a decision would be made at 8:30. At 8:30, school was canceled.
The reason for the delay was the timing of the snow and ice, which mostly fell between 7 and 9 Thursday morning, or the time when many students are traveling to school.
Shaver and three other district employees checked the city roads between 3 and 5:30 in the morning and determined that they were passable. But the weather service said that it would start snowing around 7, so they decided to wait to see how severe the snow was. When the snow began falling heavily, the decision was made to cancel school for the day.
The TPSD will make up Thursday’s snow day on April 5, the Monday after Easter.
Shaver also said that because of the extreme cold, bus drivers will make an extra effort to pick children up as close to their doors as possible.
Meanwhile, 25 Northeast Mississippi school districts have already announced they will be closed on Friday, including Lee County Schools. Lee County Superintendent Mike Scott said Thursday that there were patches of ice on roads in the county.
Below is a list of Friday's school closings and openings as of 7:30 p.m. Keep checking NEMS360.com for more updates.
• Tupelo Christian Preparatory School, Itawamba Community College, Northeast Community College and Blue Mountain College.
• Oktibbeha County, Starkville and Tupelo schools
• Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Rust College, Mississippi University for Women and East Mississippi Community College.
Tupelo Public School District Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill will not be the next superintendent in Birmingham, Ala.
The Birmingham Board of Education chose Edgecombe County, N.C., Superintendent Craig Witherspoon in a 6-3 vote late Thursday night, according to the Birmingham News. Clayton County, Ga., Assistant Superintendent Valya Lee received the other three votes.
Hill was one of three finalists for the job. He said he had submitted his name to a search firm because he wants to one day become a superintendent and that he was caught off guard when the firm quickly called him and asked him if he'd be interested in applying for the Birmingham job. The interview should be a good experience for Hill, who has been an assistant superintendent for just over five months after spending two years as a middle school principal in Whiteville, N.C.
Hill will now be able to continue some of the initiatives he's been working on in Tupelo: helping the district implement its new laptop program, standardizing the curriculum on the sixth- to 12th-grade level and starting a program to aid middle school students who have fallen two years behind their peers academically.
Tupelo Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill is one of three finalists for the Birmingham, Ala. Superintendent job.
Hill joins Valya Lee, assistant superintendent in Clayton County, Ga., and Craig Witherspoon, superintendent in Edgecombe County, N.C., as finalists, according to a story in the Birmingham News newspaper.
The Birmingham Board of Education will hold a second round of interviews with each of the three candidates from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. According to the Birmingham News, it has not been determined which candidate will be interviewed on which day.
According to a report by CBS 42 TV, the board hopes to make a decision by Thursday.
Hill is in his first year as an assistant superintendent in the TPSD after coming to the district from Whiteville, N.C., with new superintendent Randy Shaver. Hill was a principal in Whiteville last year. His emphasis in the TPSD is secondary schools. He has been working extensively to standardize the district's curriculum at that level. He's also a key part of helping the district implement its new one-to-one computer iniative after working with Shaver to implement a similar initiative in Whiteville.
During Hill's first interview in Birmingham, he mentioned his ability to turn the system around, citing his work in Whiteville, according to another story in the Birmingham News. There, he helped turn around a failing school in two years using technology and differentiated instruction. According to that story, Hill stressed the importance of 21st century technology, communication and collaboration.
We will have more information as it becomes available.
Phew. My appologies I've been so late in blogging. Been a busy couple of days.
We went to Duke University on Tuesday and saw some model classrooms for student collaboration in an annex in one of the school's libraries. The classrooms were configured not in rows but with four tables lining each wall. Students sat around these tables in a large circle from which they could more easily have discussions with professors. There were group study rooms where students would write on the glass walls as if there were whiteboards. Throughout the space, students were lounging on fabric chairs while working on their laptops.
I don't know what the Tupelo Public School District will use from these models but they do conform to superintendent Randy Shaver's stated goal of turning classrooms into learning environments where students collaborate to drive the instruction. There will be more about those classrooms in the Journal this weekend.
Today, we toured several schools in the Mooresville (N.C.) Graded School District, which has already implemented a one-to-one laptop initiative similar to the one the TPSD will soon roll out. I had the chance to talk to parents, community leaders, teachers and students about how the district has used the laptops and how they've overcome challenges with rolling out the computers. I'll have much more information on that in the blog over the next couple of days and in the Journal this weekend.
For now, I'll say that the Mooresville schools have done much more than give students laptops, but they've changed the culutre of the classrooms, turning them into 21st-century learning environments as Shaver has said he wants to do in Tupelo. The teachers we saw were not standing in front of rows of students in lecturing. Instead they were often in the middle of the classroom monitoring students who used their computers to work on projects.
Textbooks have been drastically reduced throughout the district, but many teachers say they prefer using the resources of the Internet which allow students to go much deeper in their reserach than they could do with text books. They say the Internet is also more current than a text books.
The computers seem to have increased student creativity and many of them now make movies and multimedia presentations where they used to make posterboards.
It sounds like the most difficult thing for many teachers was getting over the fear of not knowing the technology and getting to a point where they felt comfortable asking students to help the to learn the machines. Mooresville Intermediate School Principal Julie Morrow said teachers have a closer bond than they've ever had because they are now collaborating to help each other learn the technology. Mooresville High School teacher Jessica Swearengin said the bond between student and teacher is also much stronger because the projects students are creating are more meaningful to the students who are taking more pride in their work. Also, teachers are learning along with students.
Also another local note: We went to dinner Wednesday night at a restaurant in Mooresville, N.C., called 202 North Main. And the manager was from Saltillo. Her name is Ashley Kolb and she seems to be having success in North Carolina. What a small world.
More thoughts to come soon. Feel free to share your thoughts and questions.
I will be traveling to North Carolina this week to learn more about the Tupelo Public School District's new computer initiative.
I'll be going to Duke University where they have models of modern classrooms that allow for more interaction between students, and I'll travel to Mooresville, N.C., a school district that has already implemented a one-to-one computer program. In fact, in Mooresville, all students in grades four to 12 have laptops. There I'll be able to see how they're using the computers, what difficulties they've faced and what advantages they've seen. I'll be posting updates and photos here in this blog and I'll be filing updates for the Daily Journal.
Stay tuned. I also paln to post updates on Twitter: @ChrisKieffer.
If you have any questions, please send them and I'll do my best to answer.
Hi. I'm Chris Kieffer, the new education reporter at the Daily Journal and this is my blog. Welcome.
This space will be a conversation about education matters both local and national. It'll be a place to discuss what is happening in your school district and interesting trends that are taking place in the country. Please share ideas, stories you've read (or heard) and issues from your district. And please bring your questions and I will do my best to answer them.
This blog will also be a place to spotlight the talented students we have in Northeast Mississippi and I'll bring attention to their accomplishments and projects.
Let me know what you think and what you'd like to see. Hope you enjoy.
ps. I plan to also use Twitter to add to the blog. For now, you can follow me @ChrisKieffer.