Photo by Linda Kor
Erin Rasmussen (pictured here) is a student in Andrea Tomlin’s sixth grade class at Holbrook Junior High School, which has stepped away from traditional instruction methods by taking part in Google Classroom and using ChromeBooks. The online “books” allow students to complete their classwork online with easy access from their home computers to complete homework and submit the work without ever using pencil or paper.
By Linda Kor
The Holbrook Unified School District will continue in the coming year to help its students develop their unique abilities and prepare them to move on to higher education. Superintendent Robbie Koerperich addressed some of the areas that the schools are focusing upon.
“To fully realize each child’s potential, we will continue our mentoring programs, focus on monitoring students’ academic potential, which we can do better through MAP (Measures of Academic Progress) testing,” stated Dr. Koerperich.
He also noted that education is a major employer in the area and keeping quality people working with students is key. “It is prudent to continue to focus on staff as a priority in improving the overall system. It is our hope that state funding will allow us to stay competitive in our salary schedules,” he said.
Technology is also a key component of modern education, and the schools in the district are pushing toward new and innovative ideas to help prepare students to excel in a rapidly changing world.
The focus begins in the elementary schools, as Hulet Elementary School Principal Mike McClellan explained: “We have three laptop carts, a computer lab and two classroom Chrome sets. We encourage teachers to work with students as much as possible using those tools, and we are looking for the specific skills that students need to be successful in this area,” he said.
McClellan further explained that one such skill for computers and curriculum in general is critical thinking. “If we can teach students to think, we can teach them to do anything,” he said.
Part of developing a sharp mind is physical health, and Hulet, Park and Indian Wells elementary schools place a great deal of emphasis on eating right and physical activity.
At Hulet, programs such as the Fuel Up to Play 60 and a planned monthly activity help students perform at their best in the classroom. “We encourage physical activity and nutritious eating for students and staff. We ask that when parents send food to special activities in the classroom that it be healthy food and many parents are responding in a positive way,” said McClellan.
At Holbrook Junior High School, students are reaching their potential through the use of technology. One use is a new computer-based program that helps students prepare for algebra. Principal Jeri McKinnon said the program helps students who are struggling or falling behind with mathematic concepts.
“We just started in November, so there’s not a lot of data to look at, but we have 30 licenses for the program so students can use it during our seventh period reteach and enrichment time,” explained Dr. McKinnon.
In addition, two teachers at the school are taking part in Google Classroom with the use of ChromeBooks. “I think this is the direction that education needs to go. We have a sixth grade teacher who uses it in all her classes and another who uses them for social studies. My vision is to have this used school-wide,” stated McKinnon.
By using Google Classroom students can do all their schoolwork on the ChromeBooks and turn it in electronically. The ChromeBooks stay in the classroom, but the students can access their homework on their home computers.
At Holbrook High School, the goal is to have students plug into a higher level of thinking and hone their communication skills. “This is important in order to ready them for global citizenship needs and the 21st century economy,” stated Principal Lance Phaturos. He explained that that students are, “immersed in analytic reading, argumentative writing and inferencing critical thinking operations.”
When asked about the coming year, Koerperich noted, “Our investments will be made with accountability to produce a return on the investment, and we will do the best we can to provide a first class education for our students and our community. We look forward to becoming an even better school district in 2016.”