The Capital Area Intermediate Unit (CAIU) is pleased to announce the selection of five local schools to receive blended learning grants.
- Oak Flat Elementary in the Big Spring School District;
- Hershey Elementary in the Derry Township School District
- Lenkerville Elementary School in the Millersburg Area School District
- Halifax Elementary School in the Halifax Area School District
- Paxtonia Elementary in the Central Dauphin School District
The above schools will each receive a grant of $20,000 to plan for the implementation of blended learning practices in their schools. The term blended learning refers to teachers fusing the best of online learning practices with the best of traditional face-to-face teaching practices in the 21st century classroom.
“We are excited to be able to award these grants to these five schools,” said Brian Griffith, director of curriculum services at CAIU. “With this planning grant, each of these teams will research the latest in innovative teaching methods and begin planning for implementing them in their schools,” he said. “There are model schools throughout the country who have implemented such programs, and this grant will serve as a catalyst to spur such innovation here.” “These five schools will open their doors to other schools in our region to share what they’re doing. So, our whole region will benefit,” Griffith added.
Pending the availability of funds, a second competition for an implementation grant will be conducted in the fall of 2016. This competition will again be open to public elementary schools in the CAIU region to apply.
This second grant will support a school in actually implementing the new teaching and learning practices in its building. “These sizable grants are only possible with the help of our Partners of Education, led by EdisonLearning,” said Griffith. Thom Jackson, EdisonLearning’s President and CEO, said, “CAIU has been an innovator in helping to provide students with the tools they need to maximize their learning potential. As a partner of CAIU’s in online learning since 2009, EdisonLearning is pleased to offer financial support and technical expertise for this initiative – being fully aware that students throughout the region will benefit.”
CAIU is modeling the use of some blended learning practices in this grant process. Each district was invited to participate in both web-based and face-to-face meetings to learn more about the grants. CAIU staff members have also created online learning modules for building teams to learn more about the design attributes and various models that are being used across the country.
Vania Johnson, a tenth-grade student at the George V. Voinovich Reclamation - Bridgescape Academy in Cleveland, recently put her strong commitment to helping the less fortunate into action. Last week, Vania arranged a bake sale to benefit the City Mission of Cleveland. The City Mission provides shelter and other services to the homeless.
Although she has thought of several projects to help her cause, Vania spoke to Program Director Jennifer Morrison about her idea and Morrison arranged for the staff to contribute baked goods to the cause.
Vania baked chocolate cupcakes and recruited Brooke King, a 9th grader, to manage the bake sale table with her on the day of the bake sale. The bake sale drew buyers from our entire building including students, teachers and staff from organizations that share the building. Vania raised $73.00 during the bake sale. The next day, she took her donation to the City Mission and got to learn more about how her money will be used to service the Cleveland community.
The Gary Community School Corp. and EdisonLearning want to operate the Roosevelt College and Career Academy jointly next year, with support from the state.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Glenda Ritz chaired a public hearing Wednesday at Roosevelt where officials laid out a broad-based transitional plan for the school, which was established during the 1920s to separate black students from white students in public schools.
The Indiana State Board of Education will consider the proposal at its April 15 meeting in Indianapolis.
EdisonLearning, a private, for-profit company, has run Roosevelt since 2011, winning accolades from students and parents. The state turned to EdisonLearning after the school posted six straight F report cards. The state's contract with EdisonLearning runs out in June, and it's up to the state to determine the next step for the school.
At the outset, the school district and EdisonLearning bickered over the operation of the school. Since then, they've developed a collaborative transition plan for the 2016-17 school year that officials hope the state approves. A state accountability law dictates several options for the state.
The district and EdisonLearning are proposing the creation of a "transformation zone," an education reform model aimed at turning around low-performing schools by grouping them together and providing them with extra support. Students from those schools would feed into Roosevelt, said Assistant Superintendent Cordia Moore. The model has been used with success in the Evansville-Vanderburgh School Corp. since 2012.
Gary officials also want to create an "innovative school network," which gives schools autonomy to create charter-like innovations to improve struggling schools. Previously, only the Indianapolis Public Schools could use the reform, but a 2015 state law extended it statewide. Indianapolis Public Schools used the measure to partner with charter schools, including the Phalen Leadership Academy. Indianapolis Public Schools officials hoped the reform would slow the exodus of students to charter schools.
On Wednesday, few speakers addressed the specific plans outlined by school officials. Many students said they liked the improved climate at Roosevelt under EdisonLearning and they want it to continue. Other adults praised the legacy of Roosevelt and wanted it continue.
Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt, a Roosevelt graduate, said the proposal is aimed at restoring academic excellence while maintaining Roosevelt's legacy.
Thom Jackson, the president and CEO of EdisonLearning, pointed to academic improvement under his company's watch. Student achievement has increased 26 percent in math and 12 percent in English, although the school still received a grade of F on its last report card. Jackson said 85 percent of graduates are enrolled in college or other post-secondary schools, or have jobs.
The size of the school is a challenge, Jackson said. The enrollment of 651 students is small for a space of 427,000 square feet, he said. The annual utility cost is $1.14 million.
At recent forums, citizens suggested a multipurpose use for the rest of the building that involved support from Roosevelt alumni.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, also a Roosevelt graduate, said she felt discouraged in 2011 when EdisonLearning arrived. Since then, she's seen the cooperation between the state, school district and EdisonLearning.
"I know we are on the right track. Everybody cares about not just what happens to our school, but to our children," Freeman-Wilson said.
Ritz listened to the steady parade of comments until the hearing concluded. "I know you care passionately about your children and the education they receive," she told the audience.
GARY — Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt of the Gary Community School Corp. and the president/CEO of EdisonLearning presented a daring plan to work together, along with the Indiana Department of Education, to continue improving Roosevelt College and Career Academy.
The Indiana State Board of Education held a public hearing Wednesday night at the high school to give residents an opportunity to comment about the school’s future and how to improve the academic performance of students. Members of the SBOE made no comments, and will make a decision at a later meeting.
After six consecutive years of failure, the Indiana Department of Education, led by former state Superintendent Tony Bennett, selected EdisonLearning in 2011 to improve educational opportunities at the high school. Although the law had been on the books since 1999, the state had never taken over a school before.
Pruitt and EdisonLearning President/CEO Thom Jackson stood united and said they wanted to create a Roosevelt that was “reflective of the voices of all stakeholders.” They recommended a collaborative plan that would allow the Gary schools, EdisonLearning and the Indiana Department of Education to work together.
Pruitt and Jackson talked about creating a transformation zone, allowing the district to look holistically at school improvement by forming a transformation zone where other schools would feed into Roosevelt.
Ivy Tech Gary Campus President Marlon Mitchell and Purdue University Northwest’s Roy Hamilton said they supported the collaborative plan.
Mitchell said there was an opportunity to use the 427,306-square foot building for a variety of services. He said the community supported additional services in the vast building including the GCSC administration relocating to Roosevelt, an integrated arts program, an alternative school, a sports hall of fame and the Civil Rights Hall of Fame.
Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and retiring Gary Sen. Earline Rogers both supported the idea of collaboration.
Several Gary Roosevelt students signed up to talk. Senior Princess Tucker said she supports keeping the school open. Tucker said before EdisonLearning took over, she used to get in a lot of fights but she said she’s learned how to be a better person through EdisonLearning. “I went from fighting every day to making As and Bs. I’m the valedictorian,” she said.
Jackson said this plan is just the beginning, and he and Pruitt have been working together for 18 months. He said there are still numerous issues to work out.
Jackson also talked about the challenges EdisonLearning faced when it took over Gary Roosevelt in 2011. He said 75 percent of students did not read at the appropriate grade level, and 87 percent were not at their appropriate grade level in mathematics. He said in the last two years, student achievement has increased 26 percent in mathematics and 12 percent in English.
He said some of the challenges have included a 65 percent attendance rate, more than 100 instances a month of disciplinary and truancy cases, antiquated cooling and heating systems that do not function properly, disorganized learning spaces, bathrooms that were in disrepair and grounds that had not been properly managed.
He said attendance is now up 25 percent, and EdisonLearning hired a full-time truancy officer to work with students and families. Jackson said discipline and truancy cases have been reduced by nearly 70 percent, and EdisonLearning has increased cleanliness and organization within the facility.
If the state board approves the proposal, Jackson and Pruitt said they would clearly identify roles and responsibilities, hire a transition officer, develop a transition and implementation plan, a strategic timeline and a communication plan.
Raquel Alexander is a 20 year old senior at Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academy Humboldt Park, and is from the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago. She has been in the program for two years, and is now focused on graduating in June and continuing her education.
In order to save money, Raquel plans to attend Truman College and study Criminal Justice. Her goal is to then transfer to Loyola University and major in law. Raquel will then apply to Law School at DePaul University and hopes to eventually practice law in the city of Chicago. Raquel plans to contribute directly to the change she wants to see in her community.
In addition to her studies, Raquel enjoys both music and the arts. Her specific interests are Pop Rock and drawing as she grew up learning about both from her father. She also believes music and art are relatable to her life, and serve a therapeutic purpose.