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Education fares well in budget, several education bills also enacted

Commissioner Terry Holliday and KEA President Stephanie Winkler testify before the Senate Committee on Education discussion on SB224, an act relating to academic standards.

Commissioner Terry Holliday and KEA President Stephanie Winkler testify before the Senate Committee on Education discussion on SB224, an act relating to academic standards.
Photo by Amy Wallot, March 13, 2014

By Tracy Goff Herman
tracy.herman@education.ky.gov

The 2014 Regular Session of the General Assembly has finished its work with 1,486 bills considered with 145 bills and resolutions enacted.

The most important piece of legislation considered was HB 235, the state’s budget that covers the 2014-2016 biennium. Gov. Steve Beshear vetoed several budget measures, including language that required the Finance and Administration Cabinet to finalize end-of-year receipts early and language that limited flexibility for the executive branch in handling fiscal matters, including shortfalls and administrative matters. The legislature did not override the vetoes.

Budget

With little economic growth, Kentucky’s revenue situation isn’t much improved from the previous biennium. As such, the newly enacted budget reflects additional cuts to operating and program budgets. However, elementary and secondary education fared better than many other executive branch agencies, with funding restored to many K-12 programs.

Support Education Excellence in Kentucky (SEEK) funding was increased by approximately $189 million to cover mandated certified and classified salary increases for school district employees (1 percent in FY15 and 2 percent in FY16). Continue Reading

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Mann makes education enriching with a civic-minded approach

Fifth-grade teacher Tracy Trego checks in on students playing a number game about negative and positive numbers during her class at Mann Elementary School (Boone County). Photo by Amy Wallot, May 1, 2014

Fifth-grade teacher Tracy Trego checks in on students playing a number game about negative and positive numbers during her class at Mann Elementary School (Boone County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, May 1, 2014

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

When Mann Elementary School (Boone County) opened its doors eight years ago, the school motto was taken from the school’s namesake, Shirley Mann. Her philosophy was “choose joy.”

“That was her motto in the classroom, so we took it, and we apply it to everything we do,” said Connie Crigger, who has been the school’s only principal. “The Choose Joy Award is the big award we give to a 5th grader each year, and we feel that choosing joy every day is something that has a big impact on our school.”

Mann Elementary was recently named a 2013 National Blue Ribbon School. With solid assessment results the past several years, Crigger said choosing joy and applying strong service projects that go beyond the walls of the school are the biggest reasons for schoolwide and Blue Ribbon success.

“It makes a huge impact,” Crigger said. “We know that learning environments are crucial to learning success. It’s something that was important to me when the doors to this building opened, and our staff knows that it’s vital to getting these kids prepared with the 21st century skills they need.” Continue Reading

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Teachers hope camp experience pays off in the classroom

Michelle Hendricks, a teacher at Freedom Elementary School (Bullitt County), second from left, during a simulated mission at space camp. Photo submitted

Michelle Hendricks, a teacher at Freedom Elementary School (Bullitt County), second from left, during a simulated mission at space camp. Photo submitted

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

Michelle Hendricks, a 4th grade teacher Freedom Elementary School (Bullitt County), spent a week at a summer space camp that she hopes will have a lasting impact on her classroom and teaching practices.

“This was an incredible week,” Hendricks said of Honeywell Space Academy for Educators camp she attended last July. “We were working and learning from sunrise to way after sunset – not just learning about space, but teaching techniques, ways of incorporating collaboration and getting content knowledge that we can use to be more specific, thorough and engaging with our students.”

Hendricks attended the camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. It focused on space science and exploration, but incorporated teaching strategies appropriate for any classroom.

John Franklin, a mathematics intervention and physics teacher at Pulaski County High School, also participated in the space camp. He is interested in teaching an astronomy elective at his school next year, and he said he really benefitted from the two space mission simulations he experienced.

He also built and launched model rockets, extracted DNA, programmed a simple robot, designed a permanent space habitat, participated in a team ropes course and learned about Continue Reading

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CIITS a standout tool for Kentucky educators

James Greene, supervisor of instruction for Harlan Independent school district, said CIITS has the capability of allowing teachers to combine a variety of resources in their lesson planning and professional growth. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 27, 2014

James Greene, supervisor of instruction for Harlan Independent school district, said CIITS has the capability of allowing teachers to combine a variety of resources in their lesson planning and professional growth. Photo by Amy Wallot, March 27, 2014

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

Education Commissioner Terry Holliday noted during  a recent Board of Education meeting that – based on the TELL survey and his conversations with educators – teachers say they don’t have time to use resources available to them to help close achievement gaps.

One of those most important resources is Kentucky’s Continuous Instructional Improvement Technology System (CIITS). While it does take time to use, Maritta Horne, CIITS service manager for the Kentucky Department of Education’s Office of Knowledge, Information and Data Services, said the payoff is worth it.

“If groups come together and authors put the pieces in place, it’s a can’t-miss resource,” Horne said.

CIITS is a 24-hour, any time resource for Kentucky public school teachers that is geared toward helping them become highly effective and create highly effective learning within their classrooms.

In CIITS, teachers may access standards aligned to Kentucky Core Academic Standards (KCAS) and directly access, high Continue Reading

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High expectations are met at Blue Ribbon School

Journalism teacher Mike Piergalski guides seniors Jared Sletto, David Allen and Joe Macejko in writing a satire piece, similar to the style found in The Onion, at Beechwood High School (Beechwood Independent). “My journalism class allows for constant creativity, whether it’s in the form of blogging, podcasting or producing satirical pieces,” Piergalski said. Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 19, 2014

Journalism teacher Mike Piergalski guides seniors Jared Sletto, David Allen and Joe Macejko in writing a satire piece, similar to the style found in The Onion, at Beechwood High School (Beechwood Independent). “My journalism class allows for constant creativity, whether it’s in the form of blogging, podcasting or producing satirical pieces,” Piergalski said. Photo by Amy Wallot, Feb. 19, 2014

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

A lot of principals will tell you their school is really connected to its community, and that’s a key element in student success.

But for Beechwood (Independent) High School, it’s just a little different.

“We have that here,” Principal Ben Zimmerman said, “but overall, I feel like the community values not only our school but the education the kids are getting, too. It’s really connected to us.”

Zimmerman said that has made for a great partnership and one of several reasons why Beechwood became the first public high school in Kentucky named as a Blue Ribbon School since 2007.

“There’s a lot going well for us right now, said Zimmerman, who noted Beechwood facility and technology upgrades have helped the school make improvements in recent years.

English teachers at the school agreed one of the best pieces of evidence regarding student progress has been ACT scores, and while the highest numbers are in English and language arts, the school’s overall average score is 25.3. Continue Reading

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Taking in knowledge, while giving back to others

King Middle School (Mercer County) 8th-grade student Mackenzie Ezell designed the shirt used fro her school's fundraising efforts for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial. Social studies teachers Greg Warren, Connie Eades, Jason Bryant, Barry Moser and Mike Floro (and Tiffany Ison, not pictured) are helping with the project.

King Middle School (Mercer County) 8th-grade student Mackenzie Ezell designed the shirt used for her school’s fundraising efforts for the Kentucky National Guard Memorial. Social studies teachers Greg Warren, Connie Eades, Jason Bryant, Barry Moser and Mike Floro (and Tiffany Ison, not pictured) are helping with the project.
Photo by Amy Wallot, April 11, 2014

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

When a teacher sets out to work with students on civic-minded service learning projects, it’s not surprising for both the students and teacher to come away from those efforts feeling really good about their accomplishments.

That is definitely the way Jason Bryant sees it.

Bryant, a social studies teacher at King Middle School (Mercer County), recently helped students spearhead a fundraising effort that will help build the Kentucky National Guard Memorial in Frankfort.

Bryant and his students became involved in the effort after Principal Terry Gordon read a newspaper article about a local agency donating $5,000 to the memorial effort. Gordon shared the story with Bryant, who already was considering a Veteran’s Day-type fundraising project for his students to work on.

“I didn’t know which group to use until I spoke with him about the need of the Kentucky National Guard Memorial,” Bryant said. “Working on this project has been one of the most rewarding things I’ve done in my teaching career.” Continue Reading

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Franklin County CTC looking to lead state in secondary Career and Technical Education

Franklin County Career and Technology Center instructor Kathy Meador and senior Hailey Boden examine internal organs on a model during class. Photo by Tim Thornberry, March 21, 2014

Franklin County Career and Technology Center instructor Kathy Meador and senior Hailey Boden examine internal organs on a model during class.
Photo by Tim Thornberry, March 21, 2014

By Tim Thornberry
tim.thornberry@education.ky.gov

Franklin County Public Schools Superintendent Chrissy Jones has one main goal for the district’s Career and Technical Center (CTC): to be the best in the state.

And with a new facility, an innovative blend of programs and an experienced staff, she feels that goal is very obtainable.

Students began this school year in a new facility complete with updated state-of-the-art labs and classrooms, including those for Information Technology and Health Science programs and welding, carpentry and automotive technology. The facility also includes and a whole STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) wing for the pre-engineering program.

Jones said the new building was needed as almost 40 percent of all district high school students attend the CTC.

“We were operating in a facility that was built in the 60s and, in trying to improve and expand the programs, we basically outgrew that building,” she said. “We needed a building that would service the needs of the 21st century.

Jones said the local board of education agreed with the need to update the old building and the new structure was literally built around it. Continue Reading

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Taking arts education to the next level

Teaching artist Dianne Simpson and art teacher Bethany Inman assist students making quilt square art at Heartland Elementary School (Hardin County). Simpson works to create projects that integrate core content from arts and humanities like process and design principles with history, culture and mathematics (2-D and 3-D concepts and pattern discovery). Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 24, 2013

Teaching artist Dianne Simpson and art teacher Bethany Inman assist students making quilt square art at Heartland Elementary School (Hardin County). Simpson works to create projects that integrate core content from arts and humanities like process and design principles with history, culture and mathematics (2-D and 3-D concepts and pattern discovery). Photo by Amy Wallot, Oct. 24, 2013

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

When Heartland Elementary School (Hardin County) art teacher Bethany Inman wanted to introduce her students to a true Appalachian learning experience, she went to the Kentucky Arts Council Teaching Art Together grant program for help.

“It’s a goal of mine for my students to have a richer experience in cultural arts than what I can provide on my own,” Inman said.

The grant brings teachers and practicing, professional artists together to collaborate on an innovative residency experience. These usually last one to four weeks. The opportunity prepares teachers to incorporate the arts into the curriculum after the residency is completed.

Any Kentucky P-12 teacher or group of teachers may apply for the grant, and the next deadline to apply for a Teaching Art Together grant is April 15.

When Inman committed to the program and went to the Arts Council’s artist directory looking for the right arts discipline, she Continue Reading

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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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