Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Rock Hill School District Appoints Two New Principals #rockhillschools #rockhill

At Monday night's school board meeting, two new principals were appointed:
Denise Khaalid will become the principal at Oakdale Elementary, succeeding Neil McVann, who is retiring. Denise is currently an asst. principal at South Pointe and last year's National High School Asst. Principal of the Year.

Jill Pappas will become the principal at Independence Elementary, succeeding Marc Swygert, who has accepted a job in Massachusetts. Jill, a former principal in Colorado, came to the district in August 2012 and accepted the position of asst. principal at Rosewood Elementary.
Both educators will begin their new job effectively July 1.

Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

What Causes Engagement? #rockhill #rhschoolboard #rockhillschools

Fellow board member Dr. Jane Sharp had these comments on a recent  blog post of hers:

Teachers = Engagement = Achievement? IPads?

When Randy Bridges came to RH3 as Superintendent in 2002 he brought with him his strong belief in the power of engagement as espoused by Philip Schlechty.  According to Schlechty we need to change public schools from “places focused on compliance to those focused on engagement. “  From my, thankfully infrequent, experiences of sitting in classes that consisted of boring lectures and filling in worksheets I knew that he had a point but felt his suggestions provided a framework but no bricks.   That is, his recommendation to “work on the work” was not enough for me to identify specific actions.  When several years before I retired I discovered another approach called Professional Learning Communities I knew I had discovered my bricks. 
By teacher collaboration (consistently working together to plan instruction), monitoring data (teacher’s regularly giving small tests to check understanding and sharing results), weekly remediation and enrichment (sharing and working with each other’s kids trying to let none fall behind) we did achieve growth in learning we were all proud of.  In 2007-08, 84% of tested students passed the state reading test; 81% passed in math.  97% of teachers, 82% of fifth graders, and 86 % of parents said they were pleased with the learning environment.  (Engagement?)  The school was recognized for progress in “closing the achievement gap.”  Not surprisingly, I continue to think of this as an effective way to organize for instruction.
However, Rock Hill 3’s current superintendent, Lynn Moody, was trained under Randy Bridges and still has great belief in the Schlechty model.  We can’t really talk together about this topic because, as I have said to her, her eyes glaze over when I talk of Professional Learning Communities and I quit listening when she talks of engagement.
However, we are preparing to move into another era in instruction and I have been recently pondering my prejudices.  Lynn’s position, I believe, is that by adopting personal computer devices we will increase engagement which will lead to increased learning.  I can’t deny that student engagement is important.  I need to know the relationship, if any, between computers, engagement and learning.
For the past weeks I have been roaming the web.  To avoid (though probably not enough)  reminders of college research papers as possible I put all references I used at the end and just talk about what I learned.
Many of the studies were correlational studies.  As many of us learned  in college correlation doesn’t necessarily indicate causality.  Because two things happen together doesn’t mean one causes the other.  One article evaluated 30 studies to determine what research says about one-to-one initiatives.  (One-to-one means providing a computer for each student.) Some found that after a school adopted the use of 1-to-1 computing some achievement scores improved.  In one large study math scores improved more than in reading.  Other reports found that after 1-to-1 was started student engagement improved but academic scores showed little change.   Again, correlation means two qualities seem to be associated but not that one causes the other.  There could be another factor/change that influences both.
When teacher behavior was included in the mix there were certain teacher actions associated with improvements in both achievement and/or engagement.    One kind of effective action describes the teacher’s skill in maintaining classroom order by noticing students who did not understand and helping them quickly or recognizing and reinforcing students who were involved.   Another skill describes a teacher supporting students’ commitment to learning the content and meeting academic goals.  Teachers with this skill had an especially a strong, positive effect on achievement.  Skillful teacher behaviors included asking questions which had no pre-specified answer or validating student responses by including their ideas in follow-up discussions.  When teachers do these kinds of things improvement in student motivation (engagement) AND achievement often occur.  Students who see teachers creating a caring, well-structured classroom where expectations are high, clear, and fair are likely to say they feel engaged in school.   High levels of engagement then tend to be associated with higher attendance and test scores.
There were numerous anecdotal reports (not cited here) on 1-to-1 computing where a single teacher, writing on a personal blog, reported increases in achievement.  A single teacher who starts using digital devices and finds that scores improve cannot conclude that the computers caused the improvement.  Although unintended, the teacher’s expectations and changes in teaching styles could affect the outcome.
A few reports simultaneously examined the use of computers, academic outcomes and also included measures on teacher behaviors.  In cases where the computers were correlated with improvements in academics the teachers lectured less, provided more individual and group project work, and worked and shared more with other teachers.  Extended professional development (additional education in teaching methods) also occurred with most successful programs, i.e., those where students’ learning improved.
So, at least in the sampling of studies I read, teacher support seems critically important to student engagement and achievement.  Student who feel their teachers treat them with fairness, caring, and high expectations for their success are more likely to report being engaged in school.  High levels of engagement are associated with better academic performance.  Thus, the sequence appears to go from teacher skill and support, teacher teaching method (1-to-1 personal devices or not) to students engagement to academic performance.
If we want academic improvement we have to focus on our teachers, making sure they have the professional development they need as well as the time to collaborate with their colleagues in planning instruction and re-teaching where needed.  Care for our teachers is a crucial step in our anticipated move to one-to-one computing.  Most studies of the introduction of new technologies suggest that without due attention and support for teaching communities our chances of success will be much reduced.
  1. Bebell, Damien, O’Dyer L. Educational Outcomes and Research from 1:1 Computing Settings.  Journal of Learning Technology and Assessment.   January, 2010 . Vol. 9, No. Special Report
  2. Gates Foundation Report Learning About Teaching 2010
  3. Klem, A. M., Connell, J. P. Relationships Matter:  Linking Teacher Support to Students Engagement and Achievement.  Journal of School Health. 74 (7). Sept. ‘04
  4. McGarity, J. R, Jr., Butts, D. P. The relationship among teacher classroom management behavior, student engagement, and student achievement of middle and high school science students of varying aptitudes.  Journal of Research in Science Teaching. 21(1) Jan. ‘84
  5. Nystrand, M, Gamoran, A. Student Engagement: When Recitation Becomes Conversation.
  6. ProjectRed’s research summary.
  7.  Sauers, N. J. McLeod, S.  What Does the Research Say About School One-To-One Computing Initiatives. Castle Briefs  UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education.  University of Kentucky.  May, 2012.
  8. Skinner. E.A,  Bellmont, M. J. Motivation in the Classroom: Reciprocal effects of teacher behavior and student engagement across the school year.  Journal of Educational Psychology 85(4), Dec, ’93.

Building a Stronger Work Force #rockhill

A Skilled and Educated Workforce is the Result of Collaboration Between
 Education and Business  

Join us for this interactive roundtable discussion between educators and business representatives in York, Chester, and Lancaster Counties to learn how you can partner to build a stronger workforce in South Carolina.  
Event Info  
Education and Business Workforce Development Summit
April 29, 2013
11:30am - 2:00pm 
Baxter Hood Center 
452 South Anderson Road, Rock Hill, SC
Lunch will be provided.
The event is free, but registration is required.

Lunch Sponsored by:
   Bank of America
Dr. Greg Rutherford
York Technical College

Ms. Rita Revels 
Schaeffler Inc.

Ms. Elisabeth Kovaks
SC Dept of Employment & Workforce

Dr. Vernon Prosser
York School District

Ms. Cole McKinney
Catawba Regional Council of Governments  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Gold and Silver Awards Announced #rockhill #rockhillschools

The South Carolina Department of Education announced today the recipients of the Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards for the 2012-2013 school year.  The South Carolina Department of Education recognized 662 schools and career centers for general performance, closing the achievement gap, or qualifying in both categories.
Rock Hill Schools has 17 award-winners. They are as follows:
                                                                                                                                 Gen. Performance          Closing Achievement Gap
Applied Technology Center
Belleview Elementary
Castle Heights Middle
Dutchman Creek Middle
Ebinport Elementary
Independence Elementary
India Hook Elementary
Mount Holly  Elementary
Mt. Gallant Elementary
Northside Elementary
Old Pointe Elementary
Rawlinson Road Middle
Saluda Trail Middle
Sunset Park Elementary
Sylvia Circle Elementary
W.C. Sullivan Middle
York Road Elementary
The Palmetto Gold and Silver Awards program (PGS) began with the Education Accountability Act of 1998, giving recognition to schools for high levels of academic achievement and high rates of improvement.  The PGS recognizes schools based on the criteria in the statewide Accountability Manual approved by the Education Oversight Committee (EOC)for both general performance and working towards closing the achievement gap.  Within those two categories, a school may be awarded either the gold or silver designation.  The EOC revised the criteria for Palmetto Silver General Performance this year, reducing the number of eligible schools.
Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Don't Blame The Tool #iRockrh

The Tool Isn’t The Problem

Posted by:  | March 17, 2013 | 6 Comments |
Every day, you’ll see several (tens? hundreds?) of Tweets and posts recommending “nreasons why x tool is the best/worst idea for education.”
I very much dislike lists.
You can find pros and cons for everything under the sun, but I think we need to stop promoting or discounting tools and focus more on changing pedagogy.
I’d like to write a bit about iPads now. Our school is a 1:1 iPad school, but students are also welcome to bring and use other devices (laptops, iPods, cell phones) to do what best helps them learn.
I’ve read a lot of posts about how iPads are NOT good learning tools, because you can’t learn to type properly on them,  they’re bad for note-taking, you can’t teach programming on them, etc. But in all those posts, we’re looking at an adult’s perspective: adults who learned to type on a keyboard, either in school or on their own. These same adults learned to take notes in school. If they were taught programming at all, it was done on some type of computer with a keyboard.
So, iPads are bad because adults can’t type as quickly on them, and they don’t know how to program on them. Hmm. So, are we saying that students must learn to use specific tools because those are the tools that work best for adults?
What I find interesting about this advice is that no one considered asking a child how they might use an iPad.
What if we asked kids how they would use a device? What if we got out of the way and let them explore? That’s what I have the privilege of doing every day.
One of my students, a 9 year old girl, types more quickly on an iPad than most adults type on a standard laptop. Another one of my students, a 10 year old boy, has his iPad “keyboard” split, and he types like he texts… with his thumbs. Neither of them prefer using a standard keyboard. A couple of my students learned early to type on a keyboard, so they have an iPad case with keyboard. And then there are those students who struggle with typing and writing. Although they practice those skills daily, they also have access to dictation apps that help them as well.
The beauty here is that the students have the option to choose what works best for them, and there is no need for my intervention.
My kids also document their learning in different ways. They have a camera on their iPads that they use to photograph evidence of their learning. They often switch to video mode and record what they’re experiencing while narrating simultaneously. They’ve become documentarians without an adult telling them what they should do.
They create videos to share what they are  learning. During one experiment, while they were making race tracks, the students noticed that the toy race car kept flipping off the track. It was happening so quickly, however, that they couldn’t SEE where their track was failing. One student decided they should record the car racing in slow motion to troubleshoot the problem with their track. Within five minutes, they had the problem solved, because they used their iPads to record using an app called Slow Pro. All of this happened while I watched and said nothing. They had access to a tool that allowed them to quickly grab an app and begin recording immediately.
When we go on learning excursions, they don’t grab their laptops. They grab their iPads so they can take photos and videos easily.  When they take notes, they use an app that not only allows them to type their notes, but also provides options for adding photos and voice recordings.
Some of the kids in our school are learning programming. Did you know there are apps for that too? For my own learning, I’m checking out ScriptKit right now.
iPads work in our school for a number of reasons:
  1. Our leadership had a plan in place when making the decision to include iPads as learning devices.
  2. In our inquiry-based classrooms, students have a lot of choices in determining what the will learn and how they will demonstrate what they have learned. Every kid is different, and what works for one may not work for another. Their iPads and other devices provide them options.
  3. Our teachers were provided iPads to use as well. Everyday, we work together to share what we’re doing and learn from each other.
My purpose in writing this post really isn’t so much about how I love iPads. If your school or district rushes out to purchase large volumes of these devices without any plan, time for learning about the devices, and how those devices will support teaching and learning, then ANY tool will fail.
Additionally, if the tool isn’t used to transform learning, then you’re just wasting money. If you purchase a netbook for every child in your district, but then continue only lecturing while the students take notes, is learning transformed? Or did you just buy a really expensive substitute for paper and pencil?
The tool isn’t the problem. WE are the problem. If we don’t know how to provide options for students and then get out of the way, we aren’t transforming their learning. In my opinion, children need to have access to MULTIPLE devices so that they can make decisions about what best suits them for a specific learning activity.
iPads in the classroom are neither the problem, nor the solution. iPads are tools. However, if you choose to write a list about why iPads are not good for learning, maybe you need to rethink that list. I know a school full of children who can refute your arguments by what they do every single day.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

#iRockrh Vote on Monday Night #rhschoolboard

Click here to see the board meeting information packet.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

IRock Meeting on Thursday #rockhill #iRockrh #rockhillschools

The Rock Hill School Board will have a final discussion on the iRock iPad plan on Thursday, March 21 at Dutchman Creek Middle School. The meeting will begin at 6 pm. Parents will be able to ask questions at the end of the meeting.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Northwestern High School Spring Fling #rockhill #rockhillschools

Rock Hill School News For March 19 #rockhill #rockhillschools

School Awards
}Congratulations to Old Pointe Elementary on being designated as a “Gallup High Hope School” for its score on the Nov. 2012 Gallup Student Engagement Survey. Only 192 schools of the 1700 schools that participated nationwide had a mean hope score of 4.53 or higher out of a possible 5, and Old Pointe and Sunset Park were two of them. Kudos go to Principal Tanya Campbell, her students and staff.
}Hats off to Sullivan Middle School on its selection by Constant Contact, a national authority on engagement marketing, for a 2012 All-Star Award. A March 13 news release from Constant Contact states: “Sullivan is an industry leader when it comes to engaging its stakeholders. They know how important it is to connect with their families to make sure they are informed of news and events from their school."
}Congratulations to Mount Gallant Elementary on being one of three schools selected  by the Palmetto Character Council as a School of Character. It was chosen for its efforts to create a safe, caring and respectful school where students flourish academically and do the right thing.  Principal Latoya Dixon will proudly accept the award at a reception in Columbia on March 22. 
Individual Recognitions
}Casey Lefler, a  3rd grade teacher at Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies, is a nominee for the Most Hopeful Teacher in America Award sponsored by Gallup. On nominating her, Principal Tammy Whitestated: “Casey’s diligence and lack of accepting failure on the part of students is inspiring! She encourages them to find hope in their lives…hope for a better future through the gift of education.”
}Richard Ball, an assistant principal at Castle Heights Middle School, is the author of an article in the AP Insight E-Newsletter, published by the National Assn. of Secondary School Principals. The article is on the S.C. Teacher Evaluation System and is located at
}LaChanda Hare, an 8th grade science teacher at Saluda Trail Middle School, was one of 10 educators who participated recently in the Strategies for Teacher Advancement and Renewal (STAR) program held at Seabrook Island March 4-8.
Plants Available for Sale

March 20 is the first day of Spring, and Gayle Posipanko and her students want you to visit the greenhouse at the ATC  on Mar. 20 and Mar. 21 to get ready for spring planting. See list of plants on left.
Foundation Grants Now Accepted
The Rock Hill School District Foundation will accept Spring grant applications through Monday, March 25. Applications can be found at Awards will be granted in late April.
Noteworthy Dates
tMarch 20 – Ribbon Cutting for Pearson VUE-Authorized Testing Center, 12 noon, RH Flexible Learning Center
tMarch 21 – “Future Chefs” competition sponsored by Sodexo, 3:30 pm at Dutchman Creek
tMarch 21 – Called meeting of the Board of Trustees on iRock, 6 pm at Dutchman Creek
tMarch 25 – Monthly Business Meeting of Board of Trustees, 6 pm in District Office
tApril 16-17 – Facilitator Training for Project Learning Tree 

Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Rock Hill School News For March 13, 2013 #rockhill #rockhillschools

Sunset Park Recognized by Gallup
The results of the Nov. 2012 Gallup Student Engagement Survey, administered to students in grades 5-12, were recently shared with the school board. Gallop believes that students work from a set of strengths—Hope, Engagement, and Well being—and these strengths are key factors that drive students’ grades, achievement scores, retention, and future employment.
Of the 1700 schools that participated in the poll, students in only 192 schools had a mean hope score of 4.53 or higher out of a possible 5, and Sunset Park Center for Accelerated Studies was one of them. By being a Gallup High Hope School, Sunset Park will receive 10 free Strengths Finder codes to share with the staff; leadership coaching from a Gallup educational consultant; and a teacher nominated by the principal will compete for the Most Hopeful Teacher in America Award. Hats off to the teachers and support staff at Sunset Park and especially the students!
Nominee for State Award
Congratulations to Dr. Lynn Moody on her nomination for the 2014 State Supt. of the Year award sponsored by the S.C. Assn. of School Administrators.
Spring Break and Summer Camps

The Boys and Girls Clubs of York County are offering programs during spring break and during the summer for students in kindergarten through high school. Information on higher grades can be found at
Noteworthy Dates
  • March 19 – Student art presentations for downtown park design, 2nd floor in Gettys Art Center,  201 E. Main Street, 4:30-6:00 pm
  • March 21 – Called meeting of the Board of Trustees on iRock, Dutchman Creek Middle School, 6:00 pm, open to the public
Elaine T. Baker
Director of Information Services
Rock Hill Schools

Blog Archive


Subscribe Now: Feed Icon