Fast times at Escambia High

Published 11:07 pm Friday, October 7, 2011

Escambia County High School teacher Rodney Owens utilizes an iPad 2 during his Anatomy class. Students will begin using the technology in classrooms next week.

Administrators and teachers at Escambia County High School are continuing their efforts to better educate their students through new programs and better use of technology, and they are having a good time doing it.

The most recent edition to the curriculum at ECHS includes the use of iPad 2 technology in classrooms throughout the school, and teachers are doing a little extra credit work of their own in order to make sure they are proficient in using the devices, which have proven to be both helpful and fun.

ECHS principal Zickeyous Byrd said his staff is constantly looking to take the next step to allow students in Atmore the chance to utilize new methods of learning.
“We do our very best to stay abreast with the latest trends in education,” Byrd said. “We realize that we are in a digital-aged world where technology is the only way to depart some education into the minds of some of our young people.”

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Byrd proactively pursued funds for 40 iPad 2 units through a federal grant designated for technology. Byrd said he noticed schools in neighboring counties beginning to use new methods and equipment in the classroom and wanted to ensure the same opportunities were made available to students at ECHS.

“Baldwin County recently purchase Mac Books for their students because they realized that technology is the way to go,” Byrd said. “Our students must have something to keep them engaged and motivated. We are thankful to a grant that was provided by the federal government that allowed us to go beyond the Mac Books and purchase iPad 2s for the purpose of incorporating technology into education.”

Byrd said the iPad 2 units will be used by both teachers and students in many different ways. ECHS teachers are currently training to use the iPads in the classroom and Byrd said students would begin using them sometime next week.

“Teachers will use these tools to keep students motivated to learn,” he said. “With the thousand of educational applications available on the iPad 2, teachers are taking advantage and learning about the ones that will be useful in their classrooms.”

In addition to introducing new learning tools in the classroom, ECHS is also on the cusp of instituting several new programs aimed at better preparing students for college.

Byrd said two new programs are slated to begin during the second semester of the 2011-12 school year. Beginning in January, 2012 ECHS will implement an advanced placement program designed to allow students to take college-level courses while still in high school. Byrd said students who take advantage of the program will have the opportunity to earn a two-year associates degree by the time they graduate high school.

Operating in a similar fashion as the advanced placement program, ECHS will also introduce the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme in January.

The IB Programme is designed to focus on students ages 16 through 19 and is aimed at preparing them for life at the university level and beyond through a challenging curriculum and in-depth testing.

Students involved with the IB Diploma Programme will study six courses at a higher or standard level. Each student will be able to choose from a list of courses but will also be required to complete three core requirements including an extended essay, a course addressing the theory of knowledge and a class emphasizing creativity, action and service through outside-the-classroom activities.

Byrd said January will also bring the return of the “Twilight Program” at ECHS. First employed during the 2010-11 school year, the after-school program allows students facing issues such as pregnancy or employment to get ahead or catch up during an extended hours program held at the school in the evenings.

Byrd said with all of the changes at ECHS just around the corner, he is anxious to see the reaction of the students to the new opportunities as well as the results the programs will produce.

“It’s going to be amazing and we are looking forward to the students soaking it all in,” he said.