Posts Tagged ‘high school’

MHS Launches 1:1 Tablet Initiative

October 9, 2013

MCPS is proud to announce the 1:1 KUNO launch at Middlesex High School. The importance of this initiative will positively affect the future of students in Middlesex County. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor explains, “No matter what our students choose to do after high school, we know that they will be expected to be proficient and ethical users of electronic devices. It is also a moral imperative for Middlesex County Public Schools to prepare our students for the reality of computer-facilitated learning by teaching them how to use these devices ethically and effectively. This investment in our community’s youth will net dividends that will continue to be evident for generations.”

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According to Steve Dunkel, Director of Assessment, Research, and Technology, “The device we chose for our division is called the KUNO.  It is an Android device that works with a software package called CurriculumLoft.  The software uses cloud technology to distribute content to students. Teachers and students send assignments, notes, assessments, and research materials using the device. Every student and teacher at MHS has received a device.  Staff was trained during multiple sessions of professional development.”

The best feature of the KUNO launch is how it is advancing learning for our students. “KUNOs are taking learning at MHS to a whole new level. Students are interactively engaged in their teachers’ presentations and curriculum. It’s an exciting time at the high school,” says Jeannie Duke, MHS Principal.

In Susan Butler’s Spanish class, she uses the tablets to teach listening skills to her Spanish students. “I am able to record my voice using a voice recorder app and then import it into an assignment.  Students play the recording and then answer the questions that follow.  It is great having them use headphones so that they can listen at their own pace, as well as repeat it as necessary.”

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Kate Peters has noticed students’ willingness to complete tasks with the KUNOs that they usually avoid. “They not only found the dictionary on the KUNO, they enjoy using it! We also began exploring how we might use the tablets in Spanish class. We went online to start our project about Hispanics in the United States. The information found was surprising and the statistics astounded many of us.”

In World History classes, Melisa Naumann and Lee Anderson are utilizing the KUNO tablets for a project-based learning assignment.  For the project, students assume a natural disaster has occurred which has returned the area to pre-historic times.  Students research how to make a simple shelter using only materials that would have been available during pre-historic times.  In addition, they design a map of their current location (Middlesex County) which identifies landforms, water, and natural resources and create a PowerPoint presentation to describe their survival plan. The students, working in pairs, used their KUNOs for research, to create their presentations, and to trace maps, which is difficult on a laptop. Because each student has their own device, the teams were able to multi-task during their project.

Naumann said, “Overall, students were more engaged and interested in completing the project because they find the KUNO easy to navigate and they prefer the touch screen.  The class enjoyed being able to stay in the classroom as opposed to going to a computer lab or using a laptop.  The KUNO is providing a lot of options for differentiated instruction, and I am looking forward to using it in many other ways.”

Assistant Superintendent Dr. Michael Cromartie states, “Developing our students as learners, citizens, and leaders relies on our collective emphasis on technology and how technology may be used to advance students’ skills and knowledge acquisition.  Educators often talk about 21st century learning and how we are preparing today’s students for careers and societal roles that do not currently exist. I am thrilled that Middlesex County Public Schools is leading our region in this type of thinking and working.”

In addition to advancing classroom instruction, the KUNO has other benefits for the students. Unlike devices designed for the general public, the KUNO tablet with CurriculumLoft considers student safety. An embedded filter makes the device CIPA (Child Internet Protection Act) compliant, both on and off school property.

The device design also considers school budgetary constraints. Superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor explains, “This learning solution is destined to lighten backpacks and lessen paper consumption over time, saving the county immeasurable sums while forwarding advanced methods of student learning. Students will be able to submit assignments electronically and save documents and assignments to virtual storage space on the school’s virtual cloud.”

Overall, the launch is an exciting new initiative for MCPS for now and for the future, which provides advanced technology to the high school students on a daily basis. Cromartie states, “Through our 1:1 Kunos launch, students at our high school have the opportunities to fully experience curriculum integrating knowledge across the content areas, producing work and receiving feedback in innovative formats, and eventually maintaining their own ePortfolios to exhibit their learning and growth over time.”


Teachers of the Year

May 10, 2013

In celebration of National Teacher Appreciation Week, faculty and staff at each of the three Middlesex County schools honored Teachers of the Year. Candidates were nominated and finalists were selected by their colleagues at each school.

This is the second consecutive year that teachers have been awarded this distinction. The honor recognizes exemplary teaching service both in the classroom and within the school community and embodies teacher leadership and instructional innovation. This year’s selections represent the many highly skilled and dedicated professionals who serve Middlesex County’s children each day.

Patty Larson, Kindergarten, Middlesex Elementary School

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Ms. Larson proudly shared her beliefs about teaching saying, “If you love and care about your students, they will learn. I believe that when students know how much we care about them, they will try their best and exceed our expectations. I feel that every child counts each and everyday. We must invest our time in them now, so that our investment will blossom in the future. Children are a precious gift, and I love being there tohelp them grow, succeed, and develop a love of learning. When my students accomplish something we have been working on, you will find me wiping the tears from my eyes because I am a proud teacher. I am passionate when it comes to each child reaching his/her personal best. I feel that all children can learn, and I want to be their loudest cheerleader, encouraging and helping them to create that emotional attachment to learning for the rest of their lives.”

Elizabeth Sanders, Language Arts & History, St. Clare Walker Middle School


A native of Lancaster, Mrs. Sanders is completing her fourth year of teaching. She confidently says, “The most important thing I can offer my students is encouragement. I believe that every child is capable of being successful. They just need a little help finding the success in themselves.”

Mrs. Sanders earned a Bachelor of Science at James Madison University, a Master of Arts in Teaching also from JMU, and is working toward a Master of Education in Policy, Planning, and Leadership at The College of William and Mary.

Elizabeth currently resides in Lancaster with her husband Dan and their four-year-old Labrador Riggins.

Hugh Scanlan, English, Middlesex High School


A lifetime resident of West Point, Mr. Scanlan has taught English for over three decades. Mr. Scanlan says, “As an English teacher, I have always felt that I have three goals: to help my students become critical thinkers, to make them more competent writers, and to help them understand that true learning is only accomplished by testing their capabilities through trial-and–error development. To me, literature and  literary history are simply means to an end. They provide models for students to work within their gradual evolution as thinkers and writers.”

Mr. Scanlan earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Richmond. He and his wife, Charlotte, have been married for 43 years.

Teacher Feature – Melvina Robinson

March 25, 2013

“In every student that walks across my threshold, I see the numerous possibilities that lie before them. I see their hopes and all of their dreams. I became a teacher to become their dream-maker.”

Mrs. Rob

This quote embodies Melvina Robinson’s philosophy when it comes to her profession and her students. Robinson, a MBA graduate from Virginia State University and Hampton University, teaches Marketing Education at MHS. She resides in Mathews with her husband Eric. They have 3 children: Nicole, a 3rd grade teacher in Franklin County; Eric, an animator; and Mariah, a freshman at Mathews High School. When not working, Robinson enjoys interior decorating and reading.

In addition to her classroom teaching, Robinson is also the sponsor of DECA, the senior class, and Building Black Achievers Mentoring Program. She strives to generate in her students “the same thirst and curiosity for knowledge that was instilled in me. I was raised to believe that with faith, hard work, and determination, there was nothing that I could not accomplish.”

Robinson believes one of the most important things she can offer her students is the “power to dream” followed by the encouragement needed to follow those dreams and aspirations. Her main goal is to create a comprehensive learning program that gives students opportunities for stimulating classroom activities that connect instruction to careers and higher education. “I strive to instill in my students a strong work ethic, respect for themselves, and to have pride in their community.”

One of Robinson’s innovative lessons allowed her students to apply learning to real-world situations by using marketing functions to plan, organize, implement, and evaluate a promotional campaign. The students’ creativity blossomed as they produced campaigns for YOVASO (Youth of Virginia Speaking Out About Teen Traffic Safety). YOVASO’s Save Your Tailgate and Mission Possible program provided students the opportunity to create the promotional campaigns and write public service announcements. An elementary school lesson plan was formulated and taught by Teachers for Tomorrow. Other elements of the unit included sponsoring a BUD rally, hosting a 3-point competition at a MHS basketball game, making an appearance on 99.1 radio, and designing t-shirts, flyers, and table tent cards.

In addition, the marketing students also created a promotional video. They wrote and rehearsed the script, interviewed administrators and teachers, then filmed and edited the video. MHS students viewed the video during mentoring to generate discussion about the importance of seatbelt safety.

At the end of each campaign, students evaluated the effectiveness and made recommendations for the future. The students’ campaign won 3rd place in the State for SYT and 1st place in Region 5 for the Mission Possible Campaign.

This comprehensive learning unit, which included input and effort from the whole school, was a huge undertaking, but it is an example of the dedication and innovative thinking that Melvina Robinson brings to MHS and Middlesex County students.

Teacher Feature – Danielle Norris

March 20, 2013

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Since 2008, Danielle Norris has taught at Middlesex High School and currently teaches English 9, Pre-AP English 10, and AP English 12. Prior to teaching, Norris studied at James Madison University and graduated with a Bachelor’s in English and a minor in Secondary Education. Originally from Gloucester, Norris now resides in Wake with her husband, Brad, and is expecting their first child in early April. In June, they welcomed their first nephew. When not teaching, Norris spends most of her free time with family and friends and enjoys arts and crafts, decorating, writing, and spending time on the water during the summer months.

As a teacher, Norris is dedicated to the success of her students. “My goal every year is to challenge my students and teach them as much as possible. Ultimately, growth is always the end goal.” In addition to information, Norris also strives to teach her students skills that will help them succeed beyond high school. She believes whether students continue their education in college or not, they all deserve the opportunity to grow as a student and as a young adult.

Flexibility is the most important thing Norris feels she offers her students. “Not in my expectations, but in my lesson planning. Each semester, I have to adapt and adjust my plans to best fit the needs of my students.” Norris also feels building relationships is essential for her students to have the most opportunities to learn. “Learning is only enhanced by trust and that is something I strive to build in my classroom each year.”

When planning lessons, one of Norris’s main goals is to make literature accessible and interesting to her students. One example of this is her Julius Caesar lesson plan for 10th grade. While reading, the students focus not only on content but also on rhetorical devices used in the speeches of Brutus and Antony. The students then use the rhetorical devices as they develop their own speech based on a topic of interest. Students utilize technology to record their delivery of their speech and ultimately play their recording to the class. This gives students the opportunities to use technology to enhance a “traditional” speech. In the final aspect of the unit, they take the rhetorical devices to a new level and with a focus on media bias create their own public announcements.

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Norris’s importance to MCPS and the students is evident in her belief that “every student can be successful. It is my job as a teacher to make sure every student feels that way and is encouraged to discover and utilize their true abilities.”  One quote Norris values is from Albert Einstein. He stated, “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  She feels that it is imperative for teachers to remember the quote as a reason why they do their job every day…to make sure students find and achieve success.

SCW Hosts the 2013 TSA Tidewater Regional Fair

March 13, 2013

TSA Regional Fair 1

The Technology Student Association (TSA) gives student members opportunities for leadership and personal growth in all areas of technology, innovation, design, and engineering. 

Through TSA’s regional, state, and national competitions, members can challenge themselves in over 60 different middle and high school events. These competitions stress the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) concepts, leadership, and presentation skills.

Virginia Regional fairs are hosted every spring by each of the six TSA regions in Virginia. On Saturday, March 02, 2013, TSA held its Tidewater Regional Fair competition at St. Clare Walker Middle School. Middle school and high school students from all over the region visited Middlesex for this well-attended event. Volunteers from near and far showed their support for these young leaders as judges, coordinators, and/or student supervisors.

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TSA members assembled in the auditorium where regional TSA president, Brett Fochtmann of Middlesex High School, called the meeting to order.  Middlesex County superintendent Dr. Taylor welcomed guests to Middlesex County and congratulated the students for being a part of TSA.

Guest speaker Mr. James Wright, resident of Deltaville Va. and a graduate of Princeton University with a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering, shared five points for students to keep in mind as they go through life. He was sure to advocate for the importance of technology in today’s society as well as the future. However, he cautioned students to understand that technology “has no emotion, and it can do a lot of good or a lot of harm. It is the people behind the technology who determine the intent of the constantly advancing technology.”

The competition began promptly after the general meeting. Students presented projects that they have been working on throughout the school year. Some of the most popular events were middle and high school Dragster Design, Essays on Technology, and Flight Endurance.

The competition concluded with the presentation of awards. The following St. Clare Walker Middle School students ranked in the top 10 and were recognized at the Tidewater Region awards ceremony:


Chloe Hodges and Jeffrey Jones received 1st place, Kevin Horton and Andrew Hudson received 2nd place, and Brooke Daniel and Cole Radabaugh received 4th place in the Tidewater Region for Challenging Technology Issues.  Participants worked in teams of two individuals to prepare and deliver an extemporaneous, debate style presentation on a spontaneously assigned technological issue.

Kevin Horton received 3rd place in the Tidewater Region for Digital Photography.  Participants produced an album consisting of color or black and white digital photographs that represent or relate to a chosen theme.  The theme for 2013 was “TSA, Organized Chaos.”

Cole Radabaugh received 1st place, Jerry Lindsey received 2nd place, and Kenneth Beam received 6th place in the Tidewater Region for Dragster Design.  Participants designed and produced a fast CO2 powered dragster according to state specifications and used only certain materials.

Kevin Horton received 5th place in the Tidewater Region for Essays on Technology.  Participants conducted research in specified subtopics of a broader technological area and, using the knowledge and resources gained through that research, wrote a comprehensive essay in thirty minutes on the one subtopic that was designated on site.  The topic for 2013 was “The Positive and Negative Effects of Technology on Today’s Youth.”

Tyler Radabaugh received 1st place, Jack Ruark received 2nd place, Chloe Hodges received 7th place, Andrew Hudson received 8th place, and Cole Radabaugh received 10th place in the Tidewater Region for Flight.  Participants designed and built a glider that stayed in flight for the greatest elapsed time.  Students created a documentation notebook with all components, sketches of test gliders, and assembled glider to be tested at the competition.

Tyler Radabaugh received 2nd place and Jack Ruark received 6th place in the Tidewater Region for Promotional Design.  Participants created and produced a color pin design that would be appropriate for trading at the national TSA conference.

Tyler Radabaugh received 1st place, Jack Ruark received 3rd place, Jerry Lindsey received 5th place, and Jack Graulich received 6th place in the Tidewater Region for Transportation System.  Participants applied and documented the engineering design process, mathematical principals and scientific concepts used in the research, design, construction, testing and evaluation of a rubber band-powered boat.  Performance ratings of the boat were based on a combination of speed and payload capability measurements.

Students who placed in the top three at the regional fair will compete against other regional finalists from around the state in those events at the state level competition, Technosphere, held May 3- 5. TSA members will also get to compete in new events that are not available at the regional fair. If they place at Technosphere, they need to pack their bags because they’ll be traveling to Orlando Florida to compete at TSA National Conference.

Mr. Odom and Mr. Short, Middlesex HS and SCW TSA advisors, are very much appreciative of the many volunteers and judges that supported the event.

Article written by Matt Short

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