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CAST members hear about tech and new initiatives

Lola VanDyke - Director of Title I,Community Schools of Frankfort

CAST, Community and Schools Together met Nov. 29 for three presentations at Frankfort Middle School.

The first presentation was given by Debbie Bracken, director of technology, who explained that the focus of the technology department at the CSF is student achievement. There are three other members of the technology team who work together to serve the entire corporation. Chris Ragsdale is the systems manager, Martin Hale is the technology integration specialist and Hector Cruz works on desktop support.

There are an estimated total of 1,825 computers in the district, and on December 15, 1,000 laptop computers will be added to the high school to provide one-to-one technology learning.

Bracken highlighted areas of technology used at CSF. She indicated that building security is a focus at our schools. Because the corporation received a safety grant, the safety committee was able to purchase security cameras. Each building principal, Superintentent Don DeWeese and Assistant Superintendent Joel McKinney have access to the cameras from their offices.

Security at the middle and high school is supported by the Frankfort Police Department, and an officer is stationed at the schools to monitor security. According to DeWeese, “Also, the police department has access to our cameras and they view the videos when investigating a crime in the area.”

Bracken also discussed IMPERO, which is a remote help desk feature that technology uses to help teachers trouble shoot problems on their computers. This saves a great deal of time, as the tech department can access computers from their offices and talk over the phone with the staff member to solve problems. IMPERO is also used to remotely start computers when students take standardized tests using the computers.

PRODIGY was next on Bracken’s list to present. PRODIGY is a free math program for students in grades K-8. The website is https://www.prodigygame.com/ so parents and community members can look at this program if they would like.

Teachers incorporate PRODIGY lessons into their curriculum, and students love learning and increasing their math skills while playing the math games.

Also, Bracken spoke about FHS students receiving their 1:1 computers. Comfortable student work spaces have been created within the high school so students can collaborate while learning. Students are already utilizing these work spaces in the newly renovated high school cafeteria and media center.

Bracken and the technology department recycled the old library bookshelves and made them into storage areas to store the laptops during the summer months. These bookshelves will aid in organizing as well as storing the laptops. FHS and Suncrest Elementary School have been completely rewired within the last year to handle the larger use of technology. Plans are being made to update Blue Ridge, Green Meadows and the

Frankfort Middle School counselors Greg Hines and Alicia DeWitt also addressed the CAST members.

Hines explained that in addition to tending to children’s social, emotional, education and health needs, school counselors serve in many capacities. They create and maintain student schedules, hold meetings for seniors, hold academic consultations, deliver classroom lessons, hold small and/or individual counseling groups, discuss career exploration with students, assist with college selection/applications, and enroll students in the 21st Century Scholars program.

Each year counselors send out surveys to assess student and staff needs and use the survey feedback from teachers to determine which counseling groups to hold and surveys from staff to determine which guidance lessons to teach. Examples of classroom lessons are: conflict resolution, healthy relationships, anti-bullying, body safety, problem solving, Character Counts, suicide prevention, and positive behavior. Counselors also plan Red Ribbon Week and College Go Week.

Erin Swinford, athletic director at FMS, explained that Purdue University is sponsoring the Gear Up Program for FMS seventh and eighth-grade students. Purdue is partnering with FMS and 9 other schools with this initiative to provide academic support and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) activities throughout the school year and during the summer. Gear Up has been put in place to support students academically and will follow students as they move to the next grade each year through graduation.

Gear Up also assists students and parents with getting signed up for the 21st Century Scholars program. Gear Up is paying for tutors during the day and after school. “We are very fortunate to have the opportunity to partner with Purdue University, and our FMS students will benefit academically each year the Gear Up staff works with them,” Swinford stated.

Principal Kelly Berenda and Mrs. Horrell presented about the Read 180 Program which began in October to help students increase their reading abilities. Read 180, research based reading remediation program, is being taught in the Title I classroom.

There are 20 students per grade level who are enrolled and attend daily in addition to their grade level reading class instruction. The Title I School Improvement Grant funded this program. Read 180 follows a blended learning format. There is whole group instruction and then students rotate to different stations to continue instruction in vocabulary, reading, and writing in small group instruction, independent reading stations, and a technology station. The Title I Interventionist, English Language Teacher, Title I Instructional Coach, and Title I Paraprofessional instruct and monitor Read 180 students.

“This is the implementation year,” said Berenda “and we are hopeful students will improve their reading abilities. From this point, we will monitor the students’ progress, adjust instruction as needed and, if future funding allows, provide additional students Read 180 in the future.”

The last 2017 CAST performance will be held at the Education and Administration Center on Dec. 20. If you are interested in joining the 2018 CAST, please contact Lola VanDyke at 765-654-5585 extension 1012 or email vandykel@frankfort.k12.in.us.