Building while Flying the Plane

June 27, 2007

haulin netAs the new fiscal year begins, North Carolina will unveil two very promising education options. Both are rigorous, somewhat independent of time and place, and free of charge to students.

One is the North Carolina Virtual Public High School, which is technically underway with some credit recovery and acceleration classes. The other is Learn and Earn On-Line, where high school students can take college courses for credit.

Checkout the Fall 2007 classes:

Clearly, our lawmakers and leaders are to be commended for bringing a future vision to reality so fast. Students will flock to these options for a variety of reasons. I think all high school students should be required to take at least one on-line course. Not a bad idea for secondary teachers either.

We have much to learn about this new education model in North Carolina. It’s going to affect locus of control, seat time, GPA, and attendance to name a few.

And we have to learn to fly this plane while it is being built. This is a common characteristic of life in the times of accelerated change.


Playing Poohsticks

June 26, 2007

Beaufort Elementary music teacher Melissa Vincent is an adjunct member of our Laptop Learning group. Aside from her affinity for teaching music to elementary school children, she keeps the Beaufort El webpage and she is quite the graphic artist.

This summer she is sharing on her blog “Outtahere” great pics of her tour of England. In this neat photo sequence, Melissa shares her game of Poohsticks on Pooh Bridge just down from the House at Pooh Corner. Now if that experience doesn’t win the hearts and minds of her students next school year, what will?

Melissa’s credibility factor with her students just went off the charts!


Ethiopian Summer

June 25, 2007

haulin netRecently, an English teacher at West Carteret HS e-mailed me with news that her teenage daughter is spending some time in Africa this summer. The daughter is keeping a blog of her experiences.

Not only am I able to stay current with her travels, I (or anyone else) can also comment and she can respond. Her account of Day 17 is especially striking:

This morning, once everyone was awake, all of the children went to Mother Teresa’s orphanage for HIV positive children while the adults went to another place. Although the fact at first glance that the people here will never live a “normal” life is undeniable, I’m beginning to question myself on what constitutes a “normal” life.

Being normal in America is completely different than being normal in Ethiopia or most anywhere in the world. Normal to me includes so many things that people without as much as I dream of having. A car to drive around in, an I pod to listen to, a computer to type on, a loving boarding school , family members who unconditionally support me, and friends who make every morning worth waking up are just a few. Clean water, electricity, shoes, and food are things I’ve begun to notice are not so normal here. If the world as a whole would redefine the word the human race wouldn’t be as materialistic. Why cant normal mean having food, a loving support group of any kind, a bed, clothes, and whatever is needed to remain healthy?

I think going back to America and being one of many white people will be stranger than having friends who didn’t wear shoes until high school .

The world is flat! And this young lady, whom I used to watch play soccer on local fields, has gone global. The real life lessons she is learning transcend what can be found in books and movies. This summer is a true blessing for her which she has chosen to share with us on her WordPress blog, Ethiopia.


Road to Recovery

June 22, 2007

The county commissioners will formally vote on this proposal on July 16:

But in the end, commissioners increased the operations budget proposed by the county manager, appropriated $2.54 to the school’s capital budget and decided to pursue a $2 million financing deal to purchase 1,475 computers, as well as printers, servers and projectors. The board approved the budgets during a special meeting held in the boardroom of the county administration building.

The county and school board also agreed to pursue a $2 million financing plan to replace computers in the schools.

In an e-mail sent to commissioners Tuesday, Mr. Langdon stated it was clear technology needs at the schools had been under-funded during the last seven years and as a result, the schools’ computer fleet was obsolete.

The school board agreed to limit its request for technology funding during the next five years to move forward with the financing plan. While both board’s agreed to the idea, no official motion was made.

(News Times, 6/22/07)


The Ship, She May be Sailing

June 21, 2007

haulin netRead today’s account of the technology part of the local capital funding request in the Daily News:

The request includes $1.2 million to replace 780 outdated computers and other technology, but County Manager John Langdon sent out an e-mail Tuesday to school officials suggesting that amount may not be the most affordable or realistic route to take.

“That number may be too much for annual funding and won’t significantly improve excessive obsolescence (of computers) soon enough,” he said in the e-mail.

Langdon has proposed a financing plan much like one it just adopted for Carteret Community College improvements. The county would finance a $2 million loan to go toward school system technology needs.

In return, the school system would agree to a five-year replacement plan that caps spending for computer and technology replacement over the life of the loan.

This ship may not sail until the new fiscal year—if she sails at all—but dang if she ain’t at berth.


Forest of Metaphors

June 20, 2007

Ropes Course Element: I leapt 4-5 feet from a small platform to a smaller one with six adults already on it. Like a wrecking ball, I figured I would take them down with momentum and weight. Instead, they countered my force and then some. As I was reeling backwards from the contact, they grabbed me and pulled me aboard.

Organizational Metaphor: The power of the group is always greater than the power of the individual. The ropes course is not a proving ground for solo artists; neither is a highly functioning team.

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Ropes Course Element: Blindfolded and with hands locked to form a human chain, seven of us searched a portion of a field for a huge rope that we would eventually have to form into a polygon. We could not make any sounds.

Organizational Metaphor: Going into the dark or unknown territory is not as frightening when linked with others committed to a common cause. The key to success is prior planning and communication. Every voice counts in the process.

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Ropes Course Element: I stood five feet in the air on a piling. My back was to the group behind me that I was trusting to catch me. I tilted to no return. As I fell backwards through space, I relied on faith and trust. Suddenly, my fall was interrupted by 14 outstretched arms. I was safe!

Organizational Metaphor: How many times a week do we jump off a cliff? Or do we rarely? Calculated risk is part of growth and/or breaking out of familiar paradigms. When we get ready to jump, do we see a support mechanism in place to make our landing as safe as possible? If we hit the ground, do we get back up? While down, have we ever been kicked?

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The Ropes Course behind Morehead Middle School is a great asset of our school system. Every element has some lesson that can be brought to bear on organizational life. I, and seven new friends, recently spent two full days gaining our certifications. Thanks, Debbie Baysden, for a job well done in leading us!

I look forward to the kick-off of the 07-08 school year and the 3-hr meeting of all administrators for an abbreviated session at the Ropes Course.


Love Your Tomorrows

June 19, 2007

—Dr. David Lenker and Dr. Pennylloyd Baldridge—

May the tomorrows of your retirements

Be as rich as the yesterdays of your careers.

Thank you for your years

of dedicated and quality service!

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Dr. David Lenker
Superintendent

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Dr. Pennylloyd Baldridge
Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum & Instruction