From the Neosho Daily News.
On this trip I learned a lot about how to integrate technology into the classroom without technology being the focal point of the classroom.
What excites me about technology is that it brings the real world into the class. In my daily life technology is integrated as a tool to help enhance what I do and my life. Very little of what I do whether researching for school board, working in sales for my family, running my business designing websites or helping with Bright Futures doesn't require technology. It is the world we live in.
I understand that there are some that are skeptical about handing each student in the high school a device of some kind. However, time and time again with Bright Futures we discuss the issue of leveling the playing field. Some students are fortunate to have parents that are able to provide them with all of the latest technology. However, many don't. Do we want those students to be one step behind in high school because they aren't able to participate in the tech world? Absolutely not.
Further down I am going to share with you my notes from the trip as well as a report on a pilot program that was done in an Illinois school.
First, transparency! Here is what happened on the trip as well as how much it cost for me to go.
We left on Monday at 2 p.m.
We flew out of Tulsa at 5 p.m. and arrived in Chicago around 9.
On Tuesday, the conference at Google was from 8:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
We were scheduled to fly back at 8 p.m., but due to flight delay we left Chicago at 9:15 p.m. We arrived back in Tulsa at midnight and I got home at 2 a.m. on Wednesday morning.
We were gone exactly 36 hours. It was a very quick trip!
The total cost for me to attend was $802.73. This does not include the shared costs of gas for the car, parking at airport or cab fare.
Broken down as follows:
$524.60 for airfare on Southwest
$255.13 for hotel - Midway Airport Marriot
$23.00 for two meals
This trip was paid for by the district. Since Google is attempting to sell us a product, it is my understanding that there are federal laws prohibiting gifts to anyone in the district, including travel expenses. However, they did provide us with one meal during the training.
I learned a wealth of information. Here are my notes from the panel discussion in the afternoon:
Here is a link to the Google pilot program report: Glenbrook 225
Also, on our flight, the inflight magazine, Spirit, featured a great article on technology in education as its cover story. Here is the link: Flipped Out
Please feel free to Contact Me if you have any questions about any information or about the trip. I went for the good of our students and I believe it was a very productive trip. It is certainly going to help me when making the decision for which device to have in our classrooms.
On Saturday, I attended my first School Board retreat as a member of the Neosho School Board. From my perspective it was a great success!
I was happy to learn that, as a Board, we all seem to be on the same page as far as our goals for the district.
(Let me just point out, I am speaking for myself and not the Board as a whole. Please do not take any remarks here as coming from the Board, but from me. This is not to say that other Board members do not share my sentiments.)
The number one goal is always improving student achievement. There are many efforts in place now to help work toward that goal. Two things I am very excited about are collaborations with Crowder College and MSSU and the 1:1 Technology Initiative. Our new Superintendent, Dan Decker, hit the ground running this week. He has already spoken with Dr. Farnsworth, the Interim President of Crowder College, about making an Associates Degree in General Studies a reality for our students as early as this school year. He also has an aggressive goal for having a technology device in the hands of every student soon. At this point we are looking at different devices and the positives and negatives of each before making a final decision within the next month or two.
One recurring theme of the meeting was improving customer service. As a representative of the taxpayers in the Neosho School District, it is important to me that all parents and community members get the best customer service. When I refer to customer service, I am talking about how concerns, discipline or other issues are handled by the staff. It is paramount that everyone is greeted kindly and given great service when interacting with district employees. Unreturned phone calls or emails is simply unacceptable. I referred to customer service as a recurring theme because many of the concerns from parents seem to stem not from poor management, but poor customer service.
Another goal we have set is to decrease the number of dropouts by half. I am very proud of the efforts that have been made by the district to address this issue. Beginning this fall we will have one teacher dedicated to the Missouri Option Program. Through Missouri Option, students are able to sit for the GED test and still receive a high school diploma. With this change our Jefferson Street Campus will have ten additional openings for students.
I am also excited to announce the school district will be hiring a full-time Bright Futures Coordinator. Through this position we can continue to expand Bright Futures to meet the needs of even more students. Already through Bright Futures we have helped students meet needs that otherwise would have prevented them from attending school and graduating.
I have promised to make the school district more transparent and I'm doing my best to fulfill that promise. If you have questions or concerns related to transparency, please let me know. I post the meetings on my Facebook page and encourage everyone to attend.
Neosho School District has a great year ahead. I am excited to be a part of it and hope all members of the community will make an effort to get involved!