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Teachers Speak Up at Mooresville Schools’ Summer Connections

July 20, 2011 - 1 Comment

MGSD Superintendent, Dr. Mark Edwards addresses the attendees at the Summer Connections 2011 Conference.

They came from all over the country, 400+ attendees from 19 states, to live and learn the lessons from Mooresville’s Schools successful technology initiative, tabbed their “Digital Conversion”.

The setting? The Mooresville Graded School District (MGSD)  “Summer Connections 2011” program, a three day symposium aimed at helping other school districts understand what and how Mooresville has changed their district’s future through the use of implementing technology on a well-planned, thoughtful scale.

It even caught the attention of the U.S. Department of Education, among those in attendance.

Often lost in the ongoing debate about the state of U.S. education is the teacher. How will the person central and ultimately responsible for the delivery of our children’s education react to all the “help” they are receiving from untold points of view?

This was the context for the panel of Mooresville teachers who got up and gave witness to the changes they have seen in learning, and in themselves, since they adopted the well-known 1:1 computing initiative at Mooresville. 

Dr. Mark Edwards opens the Teacher Panel.

The highlight of the first day session was this panel – moderated by Todd Wirt, North Carolina’s principal of the year. Todd led an energetic session with the following teachers (and parents): Katie Higgins, Sandy Sullivan, Becky Goddard, Erin Holsinger, Robin McElhannon, Tara Gander, Sharon Simpson, and Leon Pridgen.

Notable quotes – let’s let the teachers state their experience in their own words:

  • “Technology has transformed the way I teach…students are more independent, they are more accountable for their study.”
  • “The students come together and share, collaborate, more than ever before – the technology tools are unlocking their creativity.”
  • “It’s created a symbiotic relationship – they are more dependent on me than ever before – and it’s the same for me with them.”
  • “The tools help us customize learning for all students in the classroom like never before.”
  • “When we first started, it took some getting used to. But now the tools have created a sense of community in the classroom that wasn’t there before – and it’s making me a better teacher.”

A Mooresville student, HS senior Athena Barteldt, also spoke to the crowd and showed her video projects. In her own words:

“…with the laptop, I can express myself – I face no more limits in school. In my studies there are now no more questions unanswered… learning how to learn with my laptop, I can head off to college with one less thing to worry about.”

The session closed with Todd Wirt leading a panel of teachers describing the changes with 1 word…the teacher feedback? “Engaging…differentiation…collaborative…lucky…faith…trust…connection…creative…”

What’s interesting is that few of the teachers had used laptops extensively before – and to some extent all had trepidation four years ago regarding the wave of change they felt as they prepared for this conversion. But they all believed and they all tackled it – and to a teacher – they felt more fulfilled through the process.

The students see it, too. That explains why the Mooresville results continue to amaze – 2011 state composites will show the district at the top of state scores in all key categories. One simple example – HS graduation rates – 76% to 91% in 4 years. Last year 90% was the top in North Carolina.

And the teachers? They did it, they embraced the change and have changed the lives of hundreds of kids in the process. That’s the greatest dividend on display on day #1 at Mooresville – the teachers, and the way they have risen to this challenge. For the 40+ school districts in attendance – and soaking up all they could – this was perhaps the strongest take-away for day #1.

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  1. And the best part? This is just a part of what this district, especially the high school, does to lift the students to new levels; academically, physically and emotionally.