Work will build ‘digital bridge’ between school and home

Why won’t the weather change? It will, I think. When it does, we will be reminded that transitions are an important part of day-to-day activities. Some transitions are automatic, while others are self-guided. About four weeks ago, we all experienced the first day of spring. (At least, the calendar indicated the transition!) On the first day of spring, I generally spend some time outside, dressed for warmer weather. As you know, it was a tad chilly that day, but I ventured outside just the same.

Later, that “first day of spring” evening, my brother from Arizona contacted me on FaceTime. He took one look at me and said, “Are you sunburned already?”

To which I replied, “Nope. Windburned.” A month later, and our weather conversations continue. Snow in April might seem unusual in any other year, but in 2013 it appears to be a daily occurrence.

All of that to say, changes in weather from season to season are not necessarily predictable but certainly can be considered automatic. On the other hand, in our schools, instructional growth occurs because students and teachers make quality decisions to improve. Self-reflection, instruction, comprehension, initiative and work ethic are all components of educational growth. These transitions are not automatic; they are choices.

Much of our intellectual development occurs because of personal decisions, but some choices are not ours to make. For example, technology integration could be optional, but not completely. If an individual states, “I refuse to invest in a cell phone,” this pledge could be achievable. However, if that person says, “I will only make calls from a phone booth,” good luck with that idea. It would not be difficult to find a student, or even a younger staff member, who has no recollection of the booth of the past.

As the 2012-2013 school year enters the last 30 or so instructional days, our students and staff continue to pursue academic excellence. We are using innovative technology as tools and are exploring teaching and learning options not even available four to five years ago. It is an exciting time to be involved in education.

School districts all over the country will be working together with students and parents to build a “digital bridge” between home and school. Access to the Internet, tools to interface with classmates, online instruction and flipped classroom are all components of the educational pathway that lies ahead for today’s learners.

In our district, preschool students are introduced to the wonders of coordinated technology integration. As they progress through our K-5 buildings, they are able to take advantage of additional time with forward-thinking teachers dedicated to using the most current instructional techniques and technology. Our middle school is on the doorstep of an exciting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) initiative set to fully implement in 2014-15. Next year, transition planning will develop pilot programs for potential implementation.

The integration of capstone programming will offer our high school students even more opportunities to excel in the ever-changing and challenging technology-driven system. The comprehensive, well-rounded academic offering will give students a wide variety of choices. St. Francis High School will continue to offer quality academic, arts and activities programs.

Transitions will continue in our community, but as techniques and technology continue to change, our commitment to our students will remain solid. We will work together to build a digital bridge to the families we serve. The future promises to be eventful and exciting. Let’s continue to change as an educational community.

Ed Saxton is the superintendent of the St. Francis School District.

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