By Chris Kieffer
CORINTH – The Corinth School District took a bold step three years ago when it joined a pilot program with a more challenging, international curriculum.
On Thursday, the school district announced a new ambitious initiative.
Learning will become more interactive and personalized, Superintendent Lee Childress said in announcing the new “eMerge: Learning for the Future” project.
The strategic vision includes expanding pre-K, rolling out a literacy program, providing more technology and changing classroom approaches. It was announced during the first Corinth Education Summit at Corinth High School.
“We want to emerge as learners,” Childress said. “We want children to emerge to become leaders. That is where we want to go.”
At the heart of the new plan will be an increase of “blended learning,” which combines both teachers and technology. The approach will change the day- to-day approach educators take in the classroom.
Not only will traditional instructors lead lessons, but students also will use various devices to work on programs and assignments that can be personalized to their needs. Educators guide them through that process.
“Blended learning allows a child to advance at his or her pace, and technology will allow us to do that,” Childress said. “…Educators hear a lot about differentiation in the classroom. Technology allows that to take place from the child who needs remediation to the child who needs enrichment.”
That will require adding technology, and the district is in the preliminary phases of creating a “one-to-one plan” to provide devices to students. One possibility would be using iPads for kindergarten to second-graders and laptops for those in third to 12th grade.
More detailed plans for eMerge will be laid out in a series of announcements over the coming months, Childress said. That includes a literacy program to help individuals from birth to adulthood, likely to be announced during the next couple of weeks.
As part of the district’s plan, curriculum will be enhanced, more advanced classes will be added and technology skills will be taught beginning in pre-K. The district will boost its career pathways program to better prepare students for future jobs. It will offer more opportunities for pupils to learn foreign languages.
The plan also includes robust teacher training, Childress said.
“When any graduate leaves Corinth High School, we want them to be job ready, and we want them to be able to directly move into credit-bearing courses while in college,” Childress said.
Also during Thursday’s summit, State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright spoke of the need to raise the bar for students, and Winfield (Ala.) City Schools Superintendent Keith Davis outlined a “one-to-one” technology initiative in that district. Corinth teachers and students provided examples of how they already are using technology to enhance learning.
“I am extremely excited about what our school is doing and where it is going,” said attendee Roger Shock, the pastor of First United Methodist Church in Corinth and father of a CHS freshman. “Grades are important, but more than that, it is about developing the individual student, and this is exceptional.”
Attendee Mary Dilworth, who is on the board of directors of Corinth’s Project Attention, said she was excited to see the possibilities provided by various devices.
“Technology will help all children, even the ones who are less fortunate,” she said.
Angel Wiginton spoke during the summit about the Lee County School District’s ExPECT organization, which raises private funds to provide grants to teachers for classroom materials and other enhancements. Wiginton is ExPECT’s president.
Childress said Corinth could benefit from such a program.