“As you begin this school year, please take time to think about the torch that you represent in our schools and in the lives of our students,” said Superintendent Dr. James M. Gay at the 2016-17 Institute Day opening ceremony to a crowd of nearly 900 staff members.
“Just as the Olympic Torch spreads a message of peace, our torch spreads a message of knowledge and empowerment to be good citizens and leaders,” he said. “Our torch is the power of learning. It is the power of our S4 Touchstone, the work you do each day with students that prepares them to be the future citizens and the future leaders of our world.”
Sometimes the power of learning comes through the use of technology to spark the interest and curiosity of students.
This year, the expansion of the District’s Digital Learning Program includes the roll out of Chromebooks for all freshman and sophomore students.
With a focus on the word “learning” in Digital Learning Program, Assistant Superintendent for Instructional Services Dr. Kim Dryier highlighted the importance of taking risks and being innovative as educators use technology to strengthen students’ learning experience. There is power in digital learning outcomes including preparing students to be self-directed and collaborative, as well as critical thinkers and productive citizens, she said.
“District 230’s Digital Learning Program is the result of years of study and hard work,” said School Board President Rick Nogal. “The Board of Education is very proud of how our administration, teachers and support staff have embraced digital learning, making District 230 a leader in the field.”
“We are also cognizant that Chromebooks are merely instructional tools. We must never lose sight of the value of traditional educational goals, such as communication skills, writing, public speaking and the ability to work with others, ” he said echoing Dr. Dryier’s sentiments.
An example of how rigorous learning takes place with the assistance of technology, Dr. Gay shared a video clip from the documentary Voices of Stagg that follows Stagg High School teachers Lisa Thyer and Chris Wendelin and their 60 students as they embark on publishing an oral history book as a way to embrace empathy in the school community. The learning objectives of listening, interviewing, writing and editing take center stage as students tell the compelling stories of their classmates, teachers and fellow community members. Through it all, Chromebooks and Google Docs play a supporting role in their work.
“Technology has taken us from a simple calculator to Chromebooks in a generation or so,” said Mr. Nogal. “All of the accumulated knowledge of humankind is virtually at the fingertips of our students. It will be our joint task to harvest and cultivate that knowledge for the benefit of our students...The Board of Education is confident that District 230’s Digital Learning Program, through all of your efforts, will prepare our students for the opportunities and challenges that await them after high school.”