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Liberty Intermediate School touts culture and technology at school board

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By JEFF SCHULTZ

Playing host to the Duneland School Board on Monday, Liberty Intermediate School Principal Greg Guernsey, along with a few students and teachers, told the board members how technology has enriched their lives.

The school board met for their regular monthly meeting in the LIS media center instead of the Duneland Administration Center. At each board meeting, the board receives a presentation from a Duneland school. Presenting Monday, of course, was LIS.

Guernsey described what the school has been able to do using Canvas, an online learning management system. Students can learn from each other using discussion posts and work collaboratively while teachers can post quizzes, tests, and homework in one location. LIS recently became a “one-to-one school” where students and teachers use online platforms to access digital course materials and keep track of their progress.

“Prior to being a one-to-one school, it would be so easy for a kid to opt out,” Guernsey said. “Now, one of the biggest strengths is kids are working at a much higher level. Kids are so much more engaged. They are learning from each other.”

Fifth grade students Brock Redman and Jersey Gentry said the technology lets them see different students’ points of view and allows students to work at their own pace.

“You can keep going if you are slower at one thing and faster at another. It’s a more efficient use of time,” Redmon said.

The school has used the programs for Language Arts and Social Studies but one thing it is now expanding upon is Math and Science in a hand-on way with the new Makerspace lab, Guernsey said.

“It’s a space where kids can create. They can make things here,” Guernsey said. The lab opened this fall at LIS with a $15,000 grant obtained through the Duneland Education Foundation.

Fifth grader Marina Rau told the board how she was part of the two teams that competed in local robotic building competitions with a type of robot her team made in the lab. Students are also learning to assemble Rube Goldberg machines which is a kind of elaborate contraption to perform a simple task such as popping a balloon, Rau said.

But what Guernsey said he’s most proud of is “the climate and the culture” at LIS instilled by his staff. “We work really well together. We’re a family. If you don’t have a good, positive culture in your building, nothing else can take place. That’s a fact.”

Special education teacher Linda Scott, who has been at Liberty Schools for about 33 years, said there are challenges that teachers face every day that go beyond a teaching degree. There are children dealing with “many exceptionalities” such as anxiety disorders, mood and behavior disorders but the teachers see that they are “there to nurture, counsel, discipline, educate and entertain every student.”

“We try to use as much resources as possible to reach these kids,” Scott said. “Our goal is to get these students to stay in school and feel safe and comfortable.”

Scott commended Guernsey for his leadership, saying his focus has always been children.

Sixth grader Maticyn Gropper said that she and her peers are “always excited to come to school” because of the positive reinforcement by the principal and the teachers.

“It’s a happy environment for all students. They make us feel happy and they also make us feel like we’re valued. They make us feel our opinion is heard,” Gropper said.

“It’s great to hear,” said board member John Marshall.

Superintendent survey

In the business portion of the meeting, Board President Kristin Kroeger encouraged parents to participate in an online survey that will help in the board’s search for a new schools superintendent.

The survey data collected will build a candidate profile for a successor to the current superintendent, Dave Pruis, who retires at the end of June.

Parents should have received a link to the survey by email, Kroeger said. The survey is also on the home webpage of the Duneland School Corporation’s website, she said.

“The survey takes five minutes or less. I completed it this morning. It’s pretty quick and easy,” added board member Mike Trout.

The surveys are to be completed by Friday, March 17. Those who would rather fill out a paper copy can do so at the DSC central office at 601 W. Morgan Ave. in Chesterton.

Kroeger said that the search consultants hired by the board, BWP & Associates, will hold meetings with community leaders, businesses, parent organizations and student government on Tuesday, March 14 during the day. Then, at 7 p.m. that day, there will be a public meeting for all the community which will be in the Chesterton Middle School Auditorium.

“The purpose of all those meetings and the survey is to create a profile of a candidate that would support our objectives for superintendent of the school corporation and be able to screen resumes and interviews against that candidate,” Kroeger said.

Promise Indiana

The board, in other new business, voted 5-0 to ratify Pruis’ decision to sign a memorandum of agreement with all other school superintendents in Porter County to support the launch of Promise Indiana in the county.

Representatives from the Porter County Community Foundation spoke about the program at the last superintendents’ meeting and are applying for a grant from the Lilly Foundation, Pruis said.

Promise Indiana, which aims to provide opportunities for families to save for post-secondary or college education, was started about four years ago in Wabash County and since has been implemented in 18 other Indiana counties, Pruis said.

 

Posted 3/7/2017

 
 
 
 

 

 

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