The Herald Bulletin

May 8, 2013

Educators share ideas at the 2013 Educator Forum

Teachers discuss focusing on early childhood education and vocational offerings

By Dani Palmer
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — Around 30 Anderson Community Schools educators devoted time Wednesday evening to discussing challenges and ways to keep the district moving forward.

The teachers worked together in Anderson High School’s cafeteria during the 2013 Educator Forum sponsored by ACS and the Anderson Federation of Teachers.

After brief presentations from Valley Grove Principal Jan Koeniger, who had a powerpoint full of goals developed by principals, and Anderson High School’s Ellen Finney Pickett along with Erskine Elementary’s Marisa Graham, who talked about what schools are currently doing to promote success, educators broke off into groups to discuss how to continue moving forward with student achievement.

One change nearly all of the groups mentioned was the beginnings of a preschool center. The Southview Center, a centralized preschool, will open in the fall.

“As a kindergarten teacher, it is clear the children who’ve attended preschool,” Graham said.

Those who’ve been to preschool are often ahead of the other students, she added.

Educators often stress the importance of early childhood education and Graham, along with others, actually suggested moving the kindergartners in with the preschoolers to develop an early childhood education center.

Other well-mentioned group suggestions included:

Eastside Elementary Principal Val Scott said ACS has great staff and many kids who are doing what they’re supposed to.

“We have to let go of the past,” she said.

She noted ACS could begin promoting itself with its wide offerings of Advanced Placement courses.

She has a senior in high school and said some students can walk out with 16 credit hours, saving them money.

Proponents of the career center said it could help students graduate and find jobs because, with Anderson’s culture, not all students are destined for college. Some simply cannot afford it.

Koeniger’s presentation also included alternative school for grades kindergarten through 12 to focus on academic and behavior needs.

Opening in the fall, The Crossing Educational Center will target struggling high school students, and Highland Middle School has reported success with the Success Academy.

Goals for immediate development in the next 12 months included more support staff for all schools and instructional coaches that, Koeniger told teachers, would be “with your room, with your kids, with your issues” year round and not just periodically.

In the next three years, the principals would also like to see more STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) development that would update technology in all of the buildings and move the district to one-on-one technology with devices like iPads.

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