Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Continuing to empower students

Wow! I feel honored to be mentioned on Vicki Davis' Cool Cat Teacher Blog.

Empower - To equip or supply with an ability; enable: "Computers ... empower students to become intellectual explorers" (Edward B. Fiske).
empower. (n.d.). The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Retrieved December 09, 2008, from Dictionary.com website:http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/empower

I believe empowering students is what we should all do. In the real world, people learn from us, with us, in spite of us, or just because of what we do, whether you are a parent, an educator by career choice, a Sunday school teacher, a teacher of any topic or subject at a community center or a member of a community. So what do you do with the new knowledge, skill, attribute, or information? Do our students just hoard everything they learn then celebrate their 18th birthday and announce they are legally empowered?

A few years ago, I remember a debate amongst my own classmates (non traditional adult students). We were analyzing information gathered from a variety of stakeholders...and I brought up students. I stood my ground and will continue to support students as stakeholders in a school system because they are the primary mandated users. Teachers, administrators, counselors, and support staff...they will come and go...but without students...there is no need for the teachers, administrators, counselors, support staff and teams.

We have three top rated magnet schools in the Richmond County School district. People rent apartments in the district just to have their students apply to these top rated schools. At Thursday's monthly RCBoEd meeting recognition will be given to the following schools:

A. R. Johnson Magnet School will be presented awards for the following: Improvement in Biology on the End-of-Course Test, Achievement in Algebra I on the End-of-Course Test, Achievement in Biology on the End-of-Course Test, Achievement in Language Arts and Reading on the Georgia High School Graduation Test, Achievement in Mathematics on the Georgia High School Graduation Test, Achievement in Science on the Georgia High School Graduation Test

Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School named in US News & World Report's Best High Schools-Gold Medal List #89 out of 100. A.R. Johnson makes the Silver list of the US News & World Report

Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School is named 2008 School of Excellence

C.T. Walker Traditional Magnet School is awarded the 2008 Single Statewide Accountability System's Highest Performance Silver Award for Outstanding Student Achievement

A.R. Johnson Magnet School is awarded the 2008 Single Statewide Accountability System's Highest Performance Platinum Award for Outstanding Student Achievement

Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School is awarded the 2008 Single Statewide Accountability System's Highest Performance Platinum Award for Outstanding Student Achievement

Lake Forest Hills Elementary School is awarded the 2008 Single Statewide Accountability System's Greatest Gain Platinum Award for Outstanding Student Achievement

These schools deserve the recognition, accolades, and awards and should be recognized publicly...but when a sex scandal breaks out involving a principal, teachers, former public safety officer, graduation coach...no one remembers the awards, the good stuff, the proud moments of our students. Why not teach the students to empower themselves? To be better than those in the bad news of their school system?

Dr. Dana Bedden apologized to the students of Spirit Creek and the community. Thanks for the apology Dr. B...but you inherited this district. Parents, educators, students, and community partners have attempted to inform you of the additional issues that you are uncovering and will discover as you work to improve this district. We know that you cannot do it alone but there is a breach of trust and a restrictive filters in the effective communication process.

The former public safety officer in this investigation had been assigned to my daughter's high school prior to being reassigned to Spirit Creek MS. WRDW reports and tweets on Twitter: Inside the Spirit Creek Sex Scandal Investigation Spirit Creek sex investigation closed, 7 implicated From the Augusta Chronicle: School's staff implicated in sex scandal From the Metro Spirit: Spirit Creek Scandal

Butler High School went through sex scandal when the Band teacher was arrested and then in June 2008 when Mr. Shelton was indicted by a grand jury.

As we explain to our students...bad news sells...to people who buy it. We have to teach our students that it is OK to make their own news. With Internet access and smart phones students have the capability to send a news clip to any media outlet, including starting their own blog, website, or piece of cyberspace. If their club or out of school organization is doing something great...people do want to know about it and the media release doubles as an external document of the community efforts.

Whose future is it any way? It is OK for them to be involved, to be the practitioners, to be the decision makers. You can rest easier when your students learn to make decisions in a timely manner, take the responsibility for their actions, learn from their actions or inactions and apply it to their life's folder of lessons learned.

Don't wait until the new year to make a resolution...start today, have your digiteen share something they have done on the web, a new technical skill, or community project...eventually we will all be replaced...it is the circle of life. Do you need a visual reminder? Watch the Lion King.

So to all the Cool Cat Teachers and the digiteens and digitweens...keep up the great work. We know you will incorporate lessons learned from your experiences and continue to improve the world, whether it is in the edublogosphere, connecting globally, and continuing to take the high road and the path less traveled.
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