REF and the Easton Learning Foundation partnered to raise $40,000 for interactive whiteboards and related equipment, warrantees and professional training for Joel Barlow classrooms.Together, we have raised and given over $40,000 jointly to improve the learning opportunity for JBHS students. SMART Technology enables learning with impact. It is better learning, visually, kinesthetically, auditory, and emotionally. Currently, there are 28 classrooms and two Media Resource seminar rooms across all disciplines and grades outfitted with SMART technology permitting every student at JBHS to access the SMART benefits to learning.
Redesign of the American High School, Joel Barlow High
The Redding Education Foundation and the Easton Learning Foundation are committed to supporting the professional development of JBHS teachers in their pursuit to transform learning and classroom pedagogy by teaching 21st century skills. Teachers from all disciplines attend ongoing Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) seminars and workshops to meet other educators from around the country, HGSE faculty and researchers. Together they work to identify the problems within existing structures and practices, learn applications for improved learning experience, and authentic assessment and accountability. This past year Dr. Richard Elmore, Chair of the Redesign Institute at HGSE spent a day in JBHS classrooms and in a workshop with faculty to facilitate the implementation of the JBHS Redesign Plan.
Child Centered Water Garden; Redding Elementary School
The purpose of this grant is to teach children about pond habitats while creating a peaceful place to respect nature. This project will provide students with an opportunity to learn about real world mathematics and science using a habitat that is not currently available at the school. The target beneficiaries include the entire school population, from Pre-school to Grade 4. Read more.
An Eye to the Sky
New Pond Farm (NPF) has a new telescope! Funded together with the Merserve Memorial Fund, New Pond Farm was able to purchase a Celestron 14”, CCD camera and mounting equipment, and perform the necessary carpentry to house the scope. JBHS has a new Astronomy course! Students will use the new scope at NPF for evening viewing, and will be able to program the telescope to take photos and post them on our website where they can be downloaded for future use. We agree with NPF Director Ann Taylor who said, “I think it is terribly exciting that students will be able to come to the farm and take photos of the rings of Saturn for a school report…or possibly watch parts of the lunar eclipse as seen from New Pond Farm in Redding.”
Wire Mill Arts Foundation Goes Independent
Through funding and organizational initiatives, the Redding Education Foundation has spawned the new Wire Mill Arts Foundation, a group that is working with the developers of the Georgetown revitalization project to bring community theater to Redding. Read more.
“Redding READS HUCK”: the ONE BOOK, ONE COMMUNITY Grant
Clearly not banned in our community, Redding celebrates the centennial of the Mark Twain Library in a year-long line up of events including a community wide discussion of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” authored by one of Redding's favorite son, Mark Twain. REF funded $2,000 for the purchase and initiation of this community wide book discussion and exploration of one of America's classic gems. Join in the adventure! Link to the calendar of events at www.marktwainlibrary.org/homeport/homeport_frm.html.
With all the money, research, and commitment of communities across the country, why does the U.S. find educational innovation so elusive? Since the return of WWII soldiers, the educational system has been under constant scrutiny and reform. From affirmative action in the 1960's, to “A Nation at Risk” cultural literacy reform of the 1980's, to the standards based reform now codified as No Child Left Behind, the U.S has mandated reforms that have moved us forward but arguably leave our engine of hope languishing behind most developed nations and some newly developing countries as well.
With a wealth of recent research in neuroscience, advances in tools that access knowledge, improve learning, and create systemic efficiencies, what's holding back U.S. education? The answers are both obvious and not. Money is always a culprit yet not the root of the issue. In “Myths of Innovation” Scott Berkun argues innovation is a habit, not an epiphany, as the engineers of innovation need latitude to explore, experiment with and learn from mistakes. Structurally and culturally, there is little incentive for practitioners to risk exploring new pedagogical methods, technological tools, or applications for the latest in research. It is tremendous work with little reward except for the improved learning opportunity for students.
The Redding Education Foundation created grant programs specifically designed to instill a culture of exploration based on our belief that there are gifted educators who cannot help but explore, experiment and perpetually learn to improve their teaching. By offering the financial means and community support, REF enables educators to embrace and employ the latest research, tools, and best practices in their classrooms. Beginning with a handful of early adaptors, our community's educational innovators bubbled to the surface. On a grant by grant basis, they are creating a culture of innovation from within. Today, over 60 Redding school educators have received grants for innovation.
One only need look at the evolution of SMART Boards in Redding schools to see that REF grant programs are having a profound impact. In 2005, four intrepid teachers requested three SMART Boards be strategically placed at RES to assess their value to improved learning. While not all technologies prove worthy of the time, talent, and treasury investment, it was evident from the first day SMART Boards dramatically improved student focus, enhanced group learning visually and kinesthetically, and enabled teachers to bring the resources of the internet to lectures efficiently. Students and teachers exposed to SMART learning bubbled with enthusiasm. It was contagious.
Witnessing their benefit, The Board of Education installed them in every K-8 classroom. Building on this excitement, REF partnered with the Easton Learning Foundation to provide SMART Boards strategically in Joel Barlow High School classroom.
In three short years, interactive white board technology went from experimentation to implementation in Redding, with evidenced improvement in the learning opportunity for all Redding students.
A glance through all REF funded projects confirms the culture of innovation is alive and well, thanks to the support of the community and the commitment of our schools' gifted educators.