Grant allows high schools to share resources

Thursday, October 7, 2010


KNIGHTDALE - A $43,000 award granted last week will enable Green Hope High School and Knightdale High School to participate in distance-learning courses with each other.

The grant, from the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation, will allow both schools to develop video-conferencing labs, part of several new initiatives to improve student performance and achievement at Knightdale High School. Five students will take an Advanced Placement government class at Green Hope High School through a distance learning lab.
The distance partnership marks the first of its kind among Wake County high schools.
"It means that students here at Knightdale High School will be able to take AP courses that they were unable to do without partnering with Green Hope," Wake school board chairman Ron Margiotta explained before addressing Knightdale teachers Tuesday morning. "But it's needed," he said. "Knightdale High School, in my opinion, has been overlooked for a long time. The number of AP courses has been so limited here and that's been a disgrace."
The government class is the only AP social studies class Knightdale doesn't offer that Green Hope does, and Melody Solomon, Knightdale's Social Studies department chair, will serve as Knightdale's distance learning lab coordinator. Solomon will be in charge of making sure assignments reach their destination and lines of communication remain open between the Knightdale students and Michael Miragliuolo, who will teach the AP government class at Green Hope.
"It's already started," said Knightdale Principal Carla Jernigan. "The teacher has already come out to the school this summer to meet with the students. We're working with technology services at the central office level to set up all the equipment, and they've already done the training. They've come out and worked with the students also in getting set up with their Blackboard accounts, and being familiar with Wimba."
These technological platforms will enable the Knightdale students to receive and submit assignments.
Green Hope Principal James Hedrick said the partnership isn't intended to benefit his school directly.
"What we hope is the students at Knightdale High School will get something out of it by being able to take a class they couldn't take at their school," Hedrick said.
Hedrick said Green Hope students will benefit by being able to work with students from other parts of the county.
Hedrick said the seed for the program was planted this summer when Acting Superintendent Donna Hargens asked if he would be interested in partnering with Knightdale High on the program.
Green Hope offers about six classes in AP government and about 150 students take the course at that school.
That equipment could open doors for other classes and other schools in the future.
"We lost our Latin teacher a couple of years ago, but Latin is not an easy hire," Jernigan said. "We're hoping we can continue to expand this because we still have people who are interested in Latin, but (we're) not able to find a teacher. This is a way we can offer classes we otherwise could not."
Wake County Commissioner Joe Bryan applauded the project that uses a resource - in this case a teacher - already in place.
"Perhaps this is a way to leverage the resources of both schools, have more AP courses through technology and save some money," Bryan said. "Hopefully some of these strategies that are being implemented here can be replicated, whether it's at East Wake High School, Garner, Fuquay or other areas of the county. I think it would be beneficial to the teacher having the opportunity to use this new technology in addition to teaching in the classroom. I think there's a potential advantage for the whole system as we're having more of this learning online."
Both Bryan and Margiotta credited the grassroots education organization Knightdale 100 for pushing this initiative and several others the school is launching this year.
"They are a very active group and have been continually pointing out the deficiencies in the high school. Finally their voices have been heard," Margiotta said. "All of the programs that are being implemented this year I think have created a lot of excitement on the part of the teachers, and motivation, and that will be reflected right down to all of the students and out to the community."
"They're putting our feet to the fire as elected officials and demanding success," Bryan added. "What they did in terms of really welling up from the community, as it welled up it brought out some of the concerns about teacher turnover, violence, academics - various concerns about what needs to be done to make this a school of choice. The school system has responded to that. After seeing all these concerns laid out, we're trying to put in place solutions."


Post a Comment