District Administration - June 2012 - (Page 24)
Director of rural SchoolS PhilliP r. JohnSon, KoDiaK iSlanD (alaSKa) Borough School DiStrict
By Jennifer E. Chase
Innovation in Rural Alaska
Collaborative technologies have bridged miles and led to across-the-board student improvement.
learning initiative, and in 2007 being formally named KISBd’s administrator of rural schools, and later, the director of rural schools. In the years since, Johnson has learned lessons about everything from modes of delivery to the effects of student shyness on VTC learning within the context of a VTC learning environment. By continuously tweaking his toolkit of collaborative technologies such as elluminate (now Blackboard Collaborate), Schoolaccess and Moodle, Johnson has used his intricate virtual learning program to help raise the rural schools’ math scores. With the district’s recognition as a 21st Century Classroom by apple for using and promoting digital learning (only 50 districts in the country receive the distinction), Johnson’s tech-connected classrooms have contributed to KIBSd becoming a cohesive learning community. Trial and Error Johnson first experimented with VTC in 2004-2005 with a Spanish teacher who taught class in one school while
Johnson (top row, center) with students in a welding certification intensive at Kodiak High School. Intensive experiences such as these are key in that they reinforce the student-to-student connections that are critical within the virtual learning environment.
PeoPle hear “rur al” and think endless woods and farmland connected by interstates and picturesque windy roads. But in parts of alaska, rural can mean having to hop on a ferry or a small plane to get from place to place. eight of the Kodiak Island Borough School district’s 14 schools are on small islands. only 156 students attend these eight schools; the rest of the district’s students attend schools on Kodiak Island proper. The 21 teachers in these rural schools are required by the district to teach all subjects, making them akin to the teachers in one-room schoolhouses years ago. By 2003, student achievement in the rural schools was on the decline. This was particularly true for math, where most teachers were being asked to teach above and
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beyond their actual knowledge. Phillip r. Johnson understood the dilemma. as a 13-year generalist teacher in the district’s rural schools, he says he was one of those teachers. “our schools were all islands unto themselves,” says Johnson. “despite teachers’ best efforts, that so many were not highly qualified in math meant that, in many cases, they were not offering authentic, rigorous math programs. ”In 2003, KIBSd applied for and was awarded its first alaska native education Program (aneP) grant for a program called the Vision Project, which introduced distance learning via video teleconference (VTC) to KIBSd’s eight rural schools. Johnson’s background and lifelong knowledge of alaska’s rural communities led to his working on the virtual
PhilliP R. Johnson
Director of Rural Schools, Kodiak (Alaska) Island Borough S.D. Age: 49 Salary: $96,000 Tenure: 4 years Schools: 14 Students: 2,564 Staff and faculty: 200 Students qualifying for free or reduced-price lunches: 46% (2010-2011) Dropout rate: 1.7% (2010-2011) Per-child expenditure: $17,989 Web site: www.kibsd.org
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration - June 2012
District Administration - June 2012
From the Editor
Geography Ed for a Flat World
Her Own Brand of Education Reform
Finding a Cure for Senioritis
Principals as Instructional Leaders
One Tablet Per Child?
Changing Lives With Assistive Technology
District Administration - June 2012