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Two selected for Joseph W. Kelly Award

Darrell Higginbotham, center, with Daviess County Schools Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins and Superintendent Owens Saylor after being present the Joseph W. Kelly Award by the Kentucky Board of Education. Photo by Amy Wallot, June 4, 2014

Darrell Higginbotham, center, with Daviess County Schools Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins and Superintendent Owens Saylor after being present the Joseph W. Kelly Award by the Kentucky Board of Education.
Photo by Amy Wallot, June 4, 2014

At its meeting yesterday, the Kentucky Board of Education presented the 14th annual Joseph W. Kelly Award to two business leaders who are actively engaged in making a difference in their local schools. Darrell Higginbotham, president of Independence Bank in Owensboro, and Mark Shirkness, the general manager of General Electric (GE) Appliances Distribution Services in Louisville, were both on hand to receive their awards.

“Kentucky is fortunate to have the involvement of the business community in P-12 public education,” Kentucky Board of Education Chair Roger Marcum said. “The support provided, as evidenced by these two individuals, is invaluable in helping Kentucky reach its educational goals.”

The Kelly Award is given to businesspeople who offer outstanding leadership and service toward promoting school improvement and equitable educational opportunities for all Kentucky children.

In his nomination letter, Daviess County Superintendent Owens Saylor and Assistant Superintendent Matt Robbins wrote of Higginbotham’s involvement as a charter member of the Foundation for Daviess Co. Public Schools, “His vision and contributions have guided the Foundation in attaining and allocating resources to enhance learning opportunities for students and our community. Darrell has worked tirelessly to solicit funds for the many projects sponsored by the Foundation, always with the belief that quality education is the best investment we can make in our children and their future.” Continue Reading

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Fresh fruit and vegetable program grant opportunity

In an effort to increase elementary school children’s consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables, expose them to new fruits and vegetables, improve healthy eating habits and help elementary schools create healthier school food environments, the Kentucky Department of Education is now accepting grant applications for the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP).

The program provides funding for schools to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables to serve to students. More than $2.9 million is available to Kentucky through the federal program for the grant period of July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2015. At a minimum of $50 per student over the course of the year, approximately 58,000 students can be served through the program.

Eligible elementary schools may fill out grant applications to receive program funding. The level of funding provided to any one school depends on the enrollment of the school. Multiple schools from the same district may apply, although not all are guaranteed to be chosen.

A small percentage of operating funds may be used for expenses such as the preparation and distribution of the fruits and vegetables. Ten percent of the total grant award may be used for administrative expenses. The project should be structured so that maximum benefits go directly to children.
The grant application deadline is June 23. The deadline for questions and answers is June 9. Grants will be awarded this summer for use in the 2014-15 school year. Continue Reading

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Teacher feedback positive on new evaluation system

Amber Hayes teaches 2nd-grade students how to graph information at Indian Hills Elementary School (Christian County). Hayes likes how PGES helps with goal setting and fostering conversations with administrators.

Amber Hayes teaches 2nd-grade students how to graph information at Indian Hills Elementary School (Christian County). Hayes likes how PGES helps with goal setting and fostering conversations with administrators. Photo by Amy Wallot, Aug. 16, 2013

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) has received a positive response from Kentucky teachers concerning a new statewide evaluation system known as the Professional Growth and Effectiveness System (PGES).

The latest feedback comes in two reports from the Hope Street Group (HSG), a national nonprofit organization known for its teacher engagement work. The reports include survey results from the Hope Street Group State Teacher Fellows and thousands of their peers, along with several recommendations on the implementation of PGES.

“The department values teacher input and so we welcome these reports,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday. “It’s important that teachers have an active voice in the development and implementation of PGES. It will only help strengthen the system,” he said.

Select schools in all 173 school districts are piloting PGES this school year. For the past three years, the department, guided by a committee of stakeholders, has been working to develop a new statewide teacher evaluation system designed to transform the teaching profession and improve the outcomes for all students. A system for principals and superintendents is also in development with the guidance of stakeholders.

The first Hope Street Group report focuses on the use of student surveys and peer observation – two of the evidences that support a teacher’s professional practice rating. The reports showed teachers value both student input as well as feedback from their peers. However, among the recommendations are that KDE provide more information on student surveys to teachers and more professional learning to help teachers use survey data Continue Reading

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State recognized for computer science education policy

Director of Awesome Inc Garrett Ebel helps senior Elisha Mutayongwa create variables and functions in JavaScript while visiting Tates Creek High School (Fayette County). Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 9, 2013

Director of Awesome Inc Garrett Ebel helps senior Elisha Mutayongwa create variables and functions in JavaScript while visiting Tates Creek High School (Fayette County).
Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 9, 2013

Code.org, a national non-profit organization that promotes computer science education and computer programming or coding, has recognized Kentucky for its “progressive state policy to make computer science count” as a core graduation requirement.

Kentucky Department of Education guidance states that based on course standards and the teacher of record, a computer science course can qualify as a 4th mathematics course or an elective science course if it involves computational thinking, problem solving, computer programming, and a significant emphasis on the science and engineering practices from the Kentucky Core Academic Standards.

For example, a student who takes and passes AP Computer Science, which teaches computer programming and software development, may count it as one of the mathematics credits required for graduation as defined by Kentucky’s minimum high school graduation requirements. While not a new policy, KDE’s stand on computer science is being noted as one of many efforts to expand awareness and access to computer science as a way to promote 21st century skills.

“We recognize the impact that computer science education can have on students even if they don’t plan on going into that for a career,” Commissioner Terry Holliday said. “It develops students’ computational and critical thinking skills and shows them how to create new technologies not just use the ones we have. Students need this skill set to be prepared for the 21st century, regardless of what field of study or job they ultimately pursue.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts one in every two Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) jobs in the country will be in computing occupations, with more than 150,000 job openings annually making it one of the fastest growing occupations in the United States. The industries requiring computing professionals is diverse — two-thirds of computing jobs are in sectors other than information technology, including manufacturing, defense, health care, finance, and government.

“In order to sustain American innovation, we need to ensure our students have the opportunity to take computer science courses,” said Fred Humphries, Microsoft Vice President for U.S. Government Affairs. “We applaud Kentucky leaders for taking action to allow computer science courses to count toward high school graduation requirements, which helps students learn the skills they’ll need to thrive in the 21st century economy.”

Efforts to promote computer science education are catching on in Kentucky. In addition to AP Computer Science, several schools offer coding classes – either as part of regular course offerings or as an extracurricular activity. Students participated in coding challenges at this year’s Kentucky Student Technology Leadership Program annual conference. And last December, a number of Kentucky schools participated in an Hour of Code, an effort to introduce students of all ages to coding and computer programming.

The College Board is scheduled to launch a second, new AP Computer Science Principles course in 2016-17. The course is designed around seven big ideas at the core of computer science—creativity, abstraction, data, algorithms, programming, Internet and impact—that are fundamental to computer science, but applicable to analysis in many disciplines. According to College Board, “the new course will introduce students to programming but will also give them an understanding of the fundamental concepts of computing, its breadth of application and its potential for transforming the world we live in. It will be rigorous, engaging and accessible.”

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Daviess County High recognized for financial literacy courses

Daviess County High School recently was recognized by Working in Support of Education, a New York City-based educational nonprofit, as one of the top 100 schools in the nation for financial literacy.

Winners of the second annual “100 Best High Schools Teaching Personal Finance” were announced recently in a ceremony at the New York Stock Exchange.

Renee Perkins, who teaches financial literacy courses at DCHS, said in a news release, “The W!SE Financial Literacy Certification Program invites high schools who teach a unit or course on personal finance to culminate their instruction with the Financial Literacy Certification Test. The test evaluates students’ knowledge of budgeting, money, interest, credit, banking, insurance, investing, regulatory agencies, housing and retirement planning.”

Students who pass the test become Certified Financially Literate, she said.

The program has reached more than 175,000 students in 34 states. Continue Reading

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Gov. Beshear ceremonially signs anti-bullying bill

Surrounded by hundreds of students at Madison Middle School, Gov. Steve Beshear today ceremonially signed Senate Bill 20, which designates October as “Anti-Bullying Month” each year in Kentucky.

The bill also creates a purple and yellow ribbon as the symbol for anti-bullying awareness in the state – with the color purple representing domestic violence victims and yellow representing those individuals who have taken their lives as a result of bullying.

“Bullying isn’t just a schoolyard issue – it can affect children, teens and adults in their homes, schools and community activities,” said Gov. Beshear. “I am proud to sign this bill to bring more awareness to the damage that bullying creates in our communities, and I hope that further awareness will help us work together to end these unacceptable behaviors.”

Students at Madison Middle School have followed this legislation closely throughout the legislative session, and some came to Frankfort to testify in support of the bill. The purple and yellow colors in the anti-bullying ribbon are also the school’s colors. Continue Reading

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Input sought on application for federal waiver extension

The Kentucky Department of Education is seeking feedback on its request for a one-year extension of a federal waiver granting the state flexibility under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965 – reauthorized in 2001 as the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act.

The waiver, first granted in 2012, allows the state flexibility in determining Adequate Yearly Progress, implementing school improvement requirements, and allocation of federal funding among other things. It also has allowed Kentucky to operate with one comprehensive system of accountability for both state and federal purposes.

After Congress failed to reauthorize NCLB, which expired in 2007, the United States Department of Education (USED) provided relief from some specific requirements in exchange for rigorous and comprehensive state-developed plans designed to improve educational outcomes for all students, close achievement gaps, increase equity, and improve the quality of instruction. Kentucky is among 43 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico approved for ESEA flexibility. Continue Reading

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Forward in the Fifth recognizes educators, others for advancing education

Forward in the Fifth’s 2014 Appalachian Leaders in Education (AppLE) Award recipients are, seated, front row, from left, Pike County Youth Leadership Council representatives Eashwar Soma, Tyler Syck, Mary Beth Hall, Alannah Little, Taryn Syck, and Dalton Hatfield; back row, from left, University of Pikeville President Dr. James Hurley; Allen Anderson, CEO of South Kentucky RECC; Pamela Branam, assistant director, Menifee County Adult Education; Dr. Joyce Bowling, teacher at Manchester Elementary School; Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth; Rosalind Stanley, public information officer and community education director for Pike County Youth Leadership Council; and Noel Crum, principal at Johnson Central High School. Photo submitted

Forward in the Fifth’s 2014 Appalachian Leaders in Education (AppLE) Award recipients are, seated, front row, from left, Pike County Youth Leadership Council representatives Eashwar Soma, Tyler Syck, Mary Beth Hall, Alannah Little, Taryn Syck, and Dalton Hatfield; back row, from left, University of Pikeville President Dr. James Hurley; Allen Anderson, CEO of South Kentucky RECC; Pamela Branam, assistant director, Menifee County Adult Education; Dr. Joyce Bowling, teacher at Manchester Elementary School; Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth; Rosalind Stanley, public information officer and community education director for Pike County Youth Leadership Council; and Noel Crum, principal at Johnson Central High School.
Photo submitted

Forward in the Fifth has selected six educators and two community and student-based organizations to receive the 2014 Appalachian Leaders in Education (AppLE) Awards for their efforts to advance education in Southern and Eastern Kentucky.

The AppLE Awards celebrate excellence in education and recognize individuals and organizations that go above and beyond the call of duty to make a difference in the lives of students in the region.

Jim Tackett, executive director of Forward in the Fifth, announced this year’s AppLE Award recipients during Education Leadership Day on Wednesday, April 16, at The Center for Rural Development in Somerset.

“The contributions highlighted today demonstrate the true commitment of our region at being the best it can be,” Tackett said.  “This year’s nominees, winners, and presenters have great vision and empower students and adults daily to make the most of education and always be life-long learners. All are doing important work and we salute them.”

The winners of the 2014 AppLE Awards and their respective award categories are: Continue Reading

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The Fund for Transforming Education makes grant money available to Kentucky educators

The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky (The Fund) has announced the Innovation Fund that will provide grants to teachers, administrators and others to encourage innovation in education.  Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 20, 2013

The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky (The Fund) has announced the Innovation Fund that will provide grants to teachers, administrators and others to encourage innovation in education.
Photo by Amy Wallot, Dec. 20, 2013

The Fund for Transforming Education in Kentucky has announced a new initiative to help Kentucky educators create a culture of innovation in the Commonwealth.

The Fund’s Innovation Initiative will include training, consulting and other supports; however the main component of the initiative will be the Innovation Fund. The Innovation Fund will provide grants to public school teachers, administrators and others to encourage the investigation, testing and scaling innovative practices to improve results for all of Kentucky’s students.

“Kentucky is lucky to have some of the most creative and forward-thinking minds in the education arena, but often our educators find their creativity stifled by budgetary constraints,” said The Fund’s Executive Director Barbara Bellissimo. “Our goal with the development of this Innovation Fund is to not only provide the financial means necessary for teachers to implement new practices within their classrooms, but to help them find a way to do so on a larger scale – ultimately breathing new life into the way we educate our children.” Continue Reading

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Kentucky school named Green Ribbon winner

Wellington Elementary School in Fayette County is a recipient of the 2014 U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon School District Sustainability Award.

Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Mike Boots and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan made the announcement in Washington D.C. on Tuesday. In all, 48 schools were honored for their exemplary efforts to reduce environmental impact and utility costs, promote better health, and ensure effective environmental education, including civics and green career pathways.

The Kentucky Department of Education nominated Wellington Elementary for the award.

“This is a good example of how schools can not only cut costs, but also improve the health of their students and staff, and equip students with the lifelong skills they need to be good stewards of our environment,” said Education Commissioner Terry Holliday.

Wellington Elementary is designed to be one of the most energy efficient and sustainable schools in Fayette County and features photovoltaic solar panels, a rainwater capture and reuse system, a thermal hot water system, permeable pavers, a rain garden, automatic lighting controls, native landscaping, and an outdoor classroom. Wellington has previously been named a Kentucky Green and Healthy School and awarded the ENERGY STAR award. Wellington participates in the Kentucky National Energy Education Development Project, Education Leads to Understanding Sustainability, Energy and the Environment, Fayette County Sustainability, Farm to School, Safe Routes to School, and Waste Busters programs.

Wellington students and staff members collaborate to reduce energy consumption and solid waste, while improving air quality and efficiency in and around their school.  Wellington has a student and teacher-led sustainability team that monitors and holds their school accountable for its sustainability initiatives. They conduct an energy assessment annually, and implement a plan of action to reduce energy consumption where needed. Wellington has a comprehensive indoor air quality management program that is consistent with EPA’s Indoor Air Quality Tools for Schools.

Environmental and sustainability concepts are integrated throughout the curriculum and in classroom-based and schoolwide assessments. The entire 76,000 square foot facility is used as a learning laboratory and teaching tool. Students lead tours that focus on Wellington’s unique sustainability components.

Wellington has many green partners including the University of Kentucky (UK) Colleges of Engineering and Education, Polar Bears International, Bluegrass Greensource, UK Arboretum, Newton’s Attic, Environmental Engineers, Race to the Future, Kentucky Home Performance, Kentucky Utilities, Whole Foods, Good Foods Co-Op, Kentucky Division for Air Quality, and local police and fire departments. Alliance for a Healthier Generation partners with Wellington to provide assistance with the development and implementation of action plans and support for aligning school nutrition to help students and staff make healthier food choices. Wellington also participates in a Farm to School program to use local, fresh food and the district’s Connect the Dots program to help students make balanced choices in their school lunch meals.

Sustainability is an integral part of school culture at Wellington. The school community is committed to doing its part to protect the environment and teach its students and community about environmental and sustainability concepts.

More information on the Green Ribbon federal recognition award can be found here.  Resources for all schools to move toward the three Pillars in which the 2014 honorees are exemplary can be found here.

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