JECDB members learn a lot during visit to LMS

Friday, September 13, 2013

By Jessica Moore

Staff Writer

The Joint Economic and Community Development Board had their full board meeting this week at Lewisburg Middle School.

During the meeting those present learned that the Marshall County School System has three Reward Schools: Lewisburg Middle School, Cornersville Elementary School, and Forrest School. This recognition is based on the schools' growth scores for the 2012-2013 school year. The status of Reward School is given to the top 5 percent of schools in the state. Marshall County has more Reward Schools than any other district in our region. Marshall County ranks fourth out of the 16 districts in the South Central Region, and continuously outperforms their funding rank.

According to Beth Smith, Marshall County Coordinator of Secondary Education, there are two major transformations taking place within education today, technology and Common Core State Standards.

On the technology side, Smith told JECDB members that the high schools in Marshall County now have a Virtual School Coordinator, Tres Beasley; all three schools have students enrolled in Virtual Personal Finance. Most of the state testing will be taken on computers in the 2014-2015 school year. Smart Boards are being used by teachers. These boards allow teachers to circulate between the teaching tools being used, for example operating PowerPoints, playing video clips, and writing on their boards from anywhere within the classroom. It was also learned during the meeting that students in some rooms are using clickers and cell phones to answer questions and take surveys while a program tabulates results. These results let the teachers know who and what portion of the class has mastered the question addressed. This allows the teachers to adjust their teaching methods immediately to meet the needs of their class.

During the presentation from the school representatives and teachers, they said education must change to meet the ever-changing marketplace, and Common Core is the foundation for this change. Common Core State Standards aim to improve education by emphasizing higher comprehension skills and equally mastering reading and writing. Common Core also supports cross-curricular literacy teaching. In simpler terms they will be integrating reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. Common Core also aims to measure each state by similar tests and the same standards. Those who wish to learn more about Tennessee Common Core Curriculum should visit www.tncore.org.

Those present during the JECDB meeting were also able to be part of a Professional Learning Community meeting. At LMS, this group is made up of language arts teachers, the director of schools, the assistant principal, and the principal. A professional learning community (PLC) is an extended learning opportunity to foster collaborative learning among colleagues within a particular work environment or field. It is often used in schools as a way to organize teachers into working groups. The board members received a handout explaining much of the terminology used by teachers and students when dealing with today's curriculum and education process. Words parents will hear students and teachers use often include Intervention, ICU, and Study Island.

Intervention is an individualized approach taken by teachers to fill in gaps in student learning. It is used when students do not master specific skills and/or are behind by one or more grade levels. All students receive intervention as needed. The group in which a child may be placed is subject to change every two weeks.

ICU is an in-school program designed to prevent students from failing, and Study Island is an online tool used for monitoring the progress of students having difficulty in their studies, as well as being used for enrichment and remediation.

Aside from the school program featured during the JECDB meeting, members discussed goings on within the community. The Chamber of Commerce plans to spotlight a local industry each month, alternating between small and large businesses. The Industrial Board expressed their excitement over the many new jobs that are coming to Marshall County and the surrounding areas. The JECDB Executive Director Mike Wiles reiterated many points of the Vision Plan that is in the works. He also discussed many of the events that have taken place and are upcoming within the county. The board did a great job of reminding everyone that Marshall County really does have a lot to offer.