“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
“Schools play important roles in helping drive the nation’s economic engine, serving as a repository of knowledge, and providing a ladder of success for citizens.”
David Warren, president, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
As our schools opened their doors this year, we continued to focus on our mission to provide each child with the best educational opportunity to become a lifelong learner, achieve the highest personal growth and be a contributing member of society. Our district’s same three goals have been refined in the past seven years and include: (1) improve the achievement of all students; (2) expand the communication with Benjamin School District 25 schools and stakeholders; and, (3) ensure organizational efficiency and fiscal stability.
The core to sound educational programs is a superior and great teacher. William Ward, inspirational writer points out, “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” Our district is committed to hiring and retaining the highest quality staff. They must demonstrate knowing the content, how to effectively teach the content, and engage students in applying the content. Equally important, teachers must establish rapport with students so they relate with all students. In addition to the traditional job interview, a candidate teaches a lesson so we can assess how well he or she demonstrates these qualities in order to hire the very best teacher.
How Technology Can Engage Student Learning
Bill Gates points out, “Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important.” There are three dimensions of student engagement that helps to motivate them. Behavioral engagement is exhibited by students meaningfully participating in classes, putting effort into tasks, and participating in school-related activities. Cognitive engagement involves students being invested in learning, desiring challenges, and self-regulation. Finally, emotional engagement includes students relating positively with peers and staff, feeling a sense of belonging in school, and interested in relevant academic content.
Training Opportunities for Parents and Community
This summer parents and students in grades 4-8 were trained on how to use the tablets and how the technology is being integrated in the classroom. Additional training will be sponsored by the Benjamin-Evergreen Parent Teacher Association for parents and residents. Staff, students, and technology experts will conduct sessions that are tailored to the needs of parents and the community. They will be given the opportunity in mid-October to complete a survey to indicate their interest and need for training. All sessions will be provided in our schools at no cost. Once the training sessions have been developed based on survey results, the sessions will be publicized widely.
Feedback from our students, parents, and faculty is used to continually improve the integration of technology for teaching and learning. Informal feedback has been beneficial in strengthening technology integration. Formal feedback will be provided by an advisory committee consisting of students, parents, educators, and community representatives. You are invited to contact me if you would like to serve on the committee.
Educators and School Board Recognition
American Education Week will be celebrated during the week of November 17. We will recognize educators for their tireless commitment and dedication. The General Assembly annually designates November 15 to show appreciation for the dedicated community service school board members provide. Our school board members, Anna Taylor, Tammy Mastroianni, Gregg Lemkau, Jack Buscemi, Vince Engstrom, Jodi Krause, and Dennis Peterson volunteer their time to lead Benjamin School District 25 to achieve higher levels of excellence. Please join me in congratulating our faculty and school board for their positive impact on our students!
Philip M. Ehrhardt, Ed.D.