Highland board learns about special offerings
RIVERSIDE — Construction and computers were the two main topics of discussion Monday evening as the Highland Community School Board learned about two programs being offered in the school district.
During the meeting, Carl Sefl, co-founder and marketing director of the Commercial Construction Academy of Eastern Iowa, and industrial technology teacher Brian Haymond spoke about the commercial construction program, which teaches students the ins and outs of the construction industry.
“We now have 53 students,” Sefl said. “There’s five sections with two high schools as noted. We are in the process of completing our first term.”
To begin the program, Sefl and his partner met with 30 building professionals — from carpenters to ironworkers to architectural engineers to soil developers. Altogether they developed 33 hour-long teaching modules to represent the commercial construction industry.
Once the student has completed the dual college-credit requirements, it will give the students an opportunity to move on in their education or move forward with an apprenticeship, he said.
“What we care about is that the student has learned about STEM (science, engineering, technology and math) skills and they’ve been exposed to economic development,” Sefl said.
Sefl said this fall he hopes to apply for a grant from the Washington County Riverboat Foundation (WCRF) to possibly fund a regional career expo. Sefl asked the school board for a letter of support to go with the grant application. He didn’t say the amount the grant would be for. The Riverboat Foundation requires matching funds to go with grants presented.
Haymond, an instructor in the program, also spoke about his involvement. He said the program allows juniors and seniors to earn up to 12 college credit hours.
To finish out the presentation Haymond showed the board pictures of field trips his classes have taken and how he’s integrated the curriculum into his class already. Sefl said the program had begun after several members in the construction industry had approached him to learn where they could get qualified people trained for certain jobs.
The other presentation was about the iLearn with iPads program. Last fall the school district received a Washington County Riverboat Foundation grant for $10,000 to purchase 13 iPads for classroom use. Special education teachers Britney Graber, Lisa Bohannan, and Elissa Swafford showed the school board how the iPads were assisting them in the classroom and allowing them to combine their efforts.
“One of the main reasons we got the iPads for special education is so we can be networked together because that is the constant goal,” Swafford said. “Being networked together makes us so much more effective.”
She said with the iPad sending information to the other special education teachers about what assignments were assigned in English has become instantaneous.
“If a student walks out of English two our associates can immediately have the notes to work with students right away,” Swafford said.
She also uses her iPad to take observation data.
“I can just sit there with the student at the same table and just take my observation notes,” Swafford said. “It’s recorded, it’s saved, and I can send it to my own computer. I don’t have to be writing and scripting and go later sometime to try to type that up.”
Graber uses the application called CamScanner in her classroom.
“My students no longer have any excuses for not having a worksheet,” Graber said. “It’s very user friendly and makes things a lot quicker.”
Another application used is iBooks, Graber said. With iBooks the students who struggle with literacy can download that book and ask the application to speak it to them.
Bohannan said her students are using the iPad to look up word definitions.
“It’s so much quicker than going over to the computer, logging on, and bringing up a dictionary to do their work,” Bohannan said. “We have instant access. It’s working well to have that quick for the kids.”
Bohannan also downloaded a 5-point scale to define the amount of stress students are feeling that day. If students are at level 5 then she asks them what she can do to help them with their stress.
The district doesn’t currently have plans to purchase any more iPads said school board secretary and business manager Sue Rich.