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OP mentoring sessions spur students to pursue STEM careers

In 2012, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday talked with sophomore Alex Kearns about his future college and career plans during Operation Preparation at Gallatin County High School. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 15, 2012

In 2012, Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday talked with sophomore Alex Kearns about his future college and career plans during Operation Preparation at Gallatin County High School. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 15, 2012

Students who were sophomores participating in Kentucky’s first Operation Preparation back in 2012 will be graduating high school in a few months.

Two of those students, Brooke Dossett and Alex Kearns, remember their Operation Preparation experience at Gallatin County High School as highly beneficial in preparing them for their futures. Dossett and Kearns both had Education Commissioner Terry Holliday as their mentor for the event.

Dossett told Holliday back in 2012 that she was interested in a sports medicine career. As a senior, she has decided to pursue a career as a physician’s assistant, and said the advice Holliday gave her holds up for that career path as well.

“He had a lot of great suggestions of what I should do to prepare myself for my planned career,” said Dossett, who is considering attending one of several Kentucky colleges. “I have chosen to take a lot of science classes, including anatomy, honors chemistry and AP Chemistry. I have also talked to many colleges about their programs and their requirements.” Continue Reading

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Great conversations key to college, career planning

Gallatin County Steel worker Joe Rachford helps 8th-grade student Joseph Hermann try on a personal protective suit for steel making during an Operation Preparation college and career fair at Owen County High School. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 11, 2014

Gallatin County Steel worker Joe Rachford helps 8th-grade student Joseph Hermann try on a personal protective suit for steel making during an Operation Preparation college and career fair at Owen County High School.
Photo by Amy Wallot, March 11, 2014

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

Anne Kline taught high school chemistry for 26 years, and she feels that no matter what teachers teach or how they teach it, the key element in making something memorable and lasting for students is a 1:1 connection.

“The most impactful event in any student’s life is great conversation,” said Kline, who is in her first year as a college- and career-readiness counselor for the Owen County school district. “I don’t care what (the conversations are) about: ‘What kind of relationship are you having with your boyfriend? What are you doing after high school? Your grades are slipping a little bit. Why?’ It’s the 1:1 conversations that have to happen.”

That connection is why Operation Preparation is so important and why it’s proven successful heading into its third year in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Department of Education’s (KDE) Operation Preparation is celebrated each March as statewide 8th graders and high school sophomores get opportunities for 1:1 or small group conversations with community-based mentors, most of whom are working professionals in a wide variety of occupations. Continue Reading

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District using kindergarten screener results to improve early learning practices

Emily Wilcoxson works with preschool students in her class at North Park Elementary School (Hardin County). Her class was recently named a Classroom of Excellence. Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 27, 2014

Emily Wilcoxson works with preschool students in her class at North Park Elementary School (Hardin County). Her class was recently named a Classroom of Excellence.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 27, 2014

Nannette Johnston is a product of the district she now leads, the Hardin County school district. A graduate of North Hardin High School, Johnston later taught at Parkway and Vine Grove elementary schools before becoming director of early childhood programs. In 2006, she was named interim superintendent of the district and, in 2007, she was named superintendent.

Additionally, she has been appointed to two governor’s task forces including the Interstate Compact on Educational Opportunities for Military Children and Transforming Education in Kentucky. She helps train new Kentucky superintendents and represents state superintendents on the Prichard Committee’s Strong Start Committee.

Here, Johnston answers questions regarding her district’s use of the BRIGANCE Kindergarten Readiness Screener.

How is your district using the kindergarten readiness data within the kindergarten setting – both for students who are ready and those who are not?

Hardin County Schools is using the data from the kindergarten screener as an instructional starting point for children who are Continue Reading

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CCR efforts one of many reasons for school earning Blue Ribbon honor

Mathematics teacher Kim Cron helps 7th-grade students Colten Blick and Jallin Clinard with an adding and subtracting fractions assignment at Auburn Elementary School (Logan County). Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 29, 2013

Mathematics teacher Kim Cron helps 7th-grade students Colten Blick and Jallin Clinard with an adding and subtracting fractions assignment at Auburn Elementary School (Logan County). Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 29, 2013

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

David Ward believes that on his last day as the principal of Auburn Elementary School (Logan County), he could easily slip out the front door unnoticed.

“Whenever that day is, this school won’t drop off a single bit,” said Ward, who is in his 10th year as the school’s principal. “All I’ve done is hire great – not good, but great – teachers. With their dedication to this school and these students, there’s no doubt in my mind that the day I leave, no one will miss me, because my teachers and staff are that good.”

Auburn Elementary teachers are much more concerned about the students who leave the school. What makes them highly effective, Ward said, is their focus on Auburn Elementary students being  college- and career-ready (CCR).

That focus on college- and career-readiness is one of the many reasons Auburn Elementary was recently named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School.

“Kentucky’s Blue Ribbon schools are leading the way in preparing students to be college/career-ready,” Education Commissioner Terry Holliday said when the five Kentucky Blue Ribbon schools were named. “Every child deserves a world class education, and these schools are models for those in the rest of the state where students are not yet achieving or improving at such a high level.”

Auburn Elementary’s college- and career-efforts are varied and in-depth, teachers said. Continue Reading

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Students, teachers making a ‘Habit’ of leadership

First-grade student Connor Maroney laughs as he tries to choose his favorite habit from The Leader In Me 7 Habits of Happy Kids, the student version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Connor is a student in in Katy Paas' class at Campbellsburg Elementary School (Henry County).

First-grade student Connor Maroney laughs as he tries to choose his favorite habit from The Leader In Me 7 Habits of Happy Kids, the student version of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Connor is a student in in Katy Paas’ class at Campbellsburg Elementary School (Henry County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 12, 2013

By Matthew Tungate
matthew.tungate@education.ky.gov

Earlier this year, Katy Paas was having trouble with her 1st-grade class at Campbellsburg Elementary School (Henry County) being too talkative during activity time. While there is little exceptional in that, what is exceptional is how they responded, she said.

The class wanted her to take away recess and other important behavior rewards.

“Then one of my students raised her hand and said she was feeling sad because we read our class promise each morning and say we will choose to learn and sometimes it will be hard, and right now it’s hard, but we are giving up. That’s not keeping our promise,” she said. “Then another little girl raised her hand, and said she wanted to go to college one day and all of the talking was getting in the way of that.”

The class promise and setting long-term goals are part of the school’s involvement in The Leader in Me (LIM), where students learn behaviors meant to make them successful in school and in life.

“At that point, I had realized my kids had started to own their learning. Are they perfect? No way, but it’s times like these I know LIM has positively impacted their learning,” Paas said.

Based on Stephen Covey’s 1989 book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, proponents say The Leader in Me produces transformational results such as higher academic Continue Reading

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Bowling Green High administrator wins national Milken honor

Bowling Green High School (Bowling Green Independent) freshman class principal William King is announced as the newest Kentucky recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award. Photo by Tim Thornberry, Feb. 12, 2014

Bowling Green High School (Bowling Green Independent) freshman class principal William King is announced as the newest Kentucky recipient of the Milken Family Foundation National Educator Award.
Photo by Tim Thornberry, Feb. 12, 2014

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

A few minutes after William King was named Kentucky’s 2013 Milken Family Foundation National Award winner, the surprised honoree was busy networking with former winners who were there to welcome him into the Milken fraternity.

King, an assistant principal at Bowling Green (Independent) High School who is in charge of the freshman class, immediately started handing out business cards while receiving congratulations from Milken representatives, fellow educators and other stakeholders like Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

In between handshakes and hugs, he began asking the distinguished Milken attendees about presenting at upcoming Western Kentucky University TeachMeets, informal learning opportunities where teachers share 15-minute best practices before rotating stations.

“That’s just what he does,” Bowling Green High Principal Gary Fields said. “He’s always engaged in what’s going on. It’s so amazing that he’s very savvy when it comes to simple things and with other bigger things like technology. He’s just an innovative educator.”

Fields said King’s focus on simple things is an extension of his passion for student success.

“That’s why you saw him sitting up in the bleachers today with his students instead of down here (by the podium),” Fields said. “I could probably ask him any freshman’s shoe size, and he could tell me exactly what it is.” Continue Reading

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Gifted and talented education must be ever-evolving, educators say

Bullitt East High School (Bullitt County) art teacher Jason Kelty helps a student during a Saturday enrichment camp. Photo by John Roberts/Bullitt County Public Schools

Bullitt East High School (Bullitt County) art teacher Jason Kelty helps a student during a Saturday enrichment camp.
Photo by John Roberts/Bullitt County Public Schools

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

Gifted education stakeholders have a firm belief that all gifted and talented (GT) students and teachers need to be given the instruction and resources needed for optimum achievement.

Toddie Adams, director of Gifted Services for the Marshall County school district, says for this to happen, GT programs need to continuously evolve to meet the growing needs of Kentucky’s brightest students and those who teach them.

“GT teachers must be effective in the classroom providing differentiated instruction for their students,” Adams said. “GT students must be engaged and challenged every day in order to prepare them for higher education and careers. A stagnant classroom or program that is not continually revising its curriculum and instruction may be overlooking the most recent evidence to better meet the unique needs of our students.”

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) works with state districts to make sure that gifted programs don’t become stagnant. It offers resources and trainings for instructors and helps with technical assistance for districts that use Infinite Campus to document progress. Continue Reading

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Podcasts work on students’ minds, bodies

As students in Jessica Goldy Elliott's 5th-grade class walked past the Bath County Board of Education office Superintendent Harvey Tackett joined in to listen to a podcast about Christopher Columbus during a walking classroom session at Owingsville Elementary School (Bath County). Photo by Amy Wallot, Sept. 27, 2013

As students in Jessica Goldy Elliott’s 5th-grade class walked past the Bath County Board of Education office Superintendent Harvey Tackett joined in to listen to a podcast about Christopher Columbus during a walking classroom session at Owingsville Elementary School (Bath County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, Sept. 27, 2013

By Matthew Tungate
matthew.tungate@education.ky.gov

Jessica Goldy Elliott, a 5th-grade teacher at Owingsville Elementary School (Bath County), recently faced what seemed like a sure disaster: She was leading one of her classes on a walk down Main Street and a man chased his loose dog for 10 minutes.

“And I was thinking, in another circumstance these kids would be going wild, laughing and trying to get the dog to come to them,” she said. “But they were like little Army ants. They just stood there and they didn’t make a peep because they were so engaged with the lesson that was going on.”

Another class saw three fire trucks speed from the firehouse with lights flashing and sirens blazing, but the students continued listening to their audio players.

“They’re just so engaged with it,” Elliott said.

The devices are loaded with podcasts created by The Walking Classroom Institute, a non-profit organization in Chapel Hill, N.C. The WalkKits, as they are called, are being used in nine schools in the state, according to the organization’s communications director, Julie Zola. Continue Reading

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Playful teaching method helps German teacher, her students excel

Pam Pennington leads freshmen Chandler Yeary and Tyreke Padgett through a scene they were acting out during her German 1A class at Scott High School (Kenton County). Pennington was named the 2013 Outstanding Teacher from the Kentucky World Language Association. Photo by Amy Wallot, Nov. 25, 2013

Pam Pennington leads freshmen Chandler Yeary and Tyreke Padgett through a scene they were acting out during her German 1A class at Scott High School (Kenton County). Pennington was named the 2013 Outstanding Teacher from the Kentucky World Language Association.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Nov. 25, 2013

By Matthew Tungate
matthew.tungate@education.ky.gov

Although Pam Pennington teaches German at Scott High School (Kenton County), she gets her students when they are about 18 months old – at least in terms of their language proficiency. As such, she tells them stories, getting the students to fill in details with their target vocabulary. Sometimes they will draw the story or even act it out.

It is a technique called TPRS (teaching proficiency through reading and storytelling) that Pennington, the Kentucky World Language Association’s 2013 Outstanding Teacher, learned 13 years ago. As the students learn more vocabulary, their “age” goes up, she said. So Pennington doesn’t expect a lot of language from her students until the middle of their first year.

“It really helps connect in their brain, ‘OK, I don’t have to be good at this yet. It’s coming.” Every now and then they ask, ‘How old are we now?’ They understand that,” she said.

Because of that, Pennington stops short of immersing her students in German. She tops out at about 80 percent for her higher-level classes, the 19-year teaching veteran said. Yet proficiency has skyrocketed, she said. Continue Reading

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District working to increase number of National Board Certified teachers

Floyd County school district Superintendent Henry Webb is looking to grow the number of National Board Certified Teachers in his district with the help of a program that will support prospective candidates with the application process.

Floyd County school district Superintendent Henry Webb is looking to grow the number of National Board Certified Teachers in his district with the help of a program that will support prospective candidates with the application process.
Photo submitted

By Susan Riddell
susan.riddell@education.ky.gov

It’s been three years since the Floyd County school district has had a National Board Certified Teacher (NBCT), but administrators are looking to change that with the help of a program that will support prospective candidates with the application process.

“We firmly believe that building capacity is the key to organizational success for kids,” Superintendent Henry Webb said. “And in hiring the very best people when we get a chance to hire, we believe the NBCT program is rigorous, practical and authentic. It will only serve to make our teachers even better for our kids.”

While hiring NBCT teachers (Webb said the district is changing job applications to include an inquiry regarding national board certification.) is important for Floyd County Schools’ teacher growth goals, it’s equally critical that his current staff members seek out the certification.

Currently, there are nine NBCT teachers in the district.

Ted George, district director of human resources, said some teachers have expressed concerns with the application process.

“There’s a perception that it’s very difficult and time consuming,” said George, who added that some teachers were hesitant to apply without a reassurance of necessary resources being made available to them. Continue Reading

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