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Gold Ribbon School Award ceremony in Sacramento

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GOLD RIBBON SCHOOL AWARDED TO AVERY MIDDLE SCHOOL

Mary Devany (AMS Teacher), Christine Greenberg (AMS Librarian), Jared Hungerford (AMS Principal), Tom Torlakson (CA State Schools Chief), Tom Pratt (VUSD Board President), Don Ogden (VUSD Superintendent)

Apple Award December 2012

Avery earns its third Apple nod

 
 

Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2012 7:00 am | Updated: 8:47 am, Fri Dec 28, 2012.

 

Posted on December 25, 2012

It was a night of celebration last Wednesday as the Vallecito Union School District board of trustees learned that Avery Middle School will receive the Apple Distinguished School award for a third straight year.

The district’s strategic plan called for it to move toward pushing technology in its classrooms. In the 2009-2010 school year, all of Avery Middle Schools eighth-graders got iPads and now all of the sixth- through eighth-graders have them. The district is now working on providing iPads to all fourth- and fifth-graders.

 

Students and teachers interact seamlessly as lessons are taught in new ways utilizing ActivBoards, computer-controlled screens and projectors that are rapidly replacing chalkboards in classrooms. Students can even answer teachers’ questions with their devices.

The Apple Distinguished School award recognizes Avery Middle School for its outstanding use of technology on campus and for its educators sharing what they have learned with other teachers and administrators in the region. In March of this year, when the school actually received its award from last year, Jim Ozimek of Apple said that the school is on the right track.

“Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it,” he said.

Michael Wells, VUSD’s director of Technology, said that as the iPads first arrived in the district, staff was concerned that the devices might not last; middle school children can be hard on equipment. But he said even the devices purchased three years ago are holding up.

“This is part of their lives now,” Wells said Wednesday.

In a book created as part of the application process, Avery students discuss how technology is used in almost every part of their daily lessons. Under the heading “Focus on Authentic Learning,” the text describes how VUSD officials acknowledge that standardized testing is a requirement, noting that “schools have been forced to train children to be good test takers.” But the booklet goes on to say that VUSD’s philosophy doesn’t dwell on tests.

“Several years ago, we made a conscious decision to turn our eyes, resources, hearts and passions toward educating students for a 21st century world. We took a turn away from a focus on test-taking strategies for a narrow field of content to a broader, deeper and more authentic educational program that includes cross-curricular work, project-based learning (and) a focus on creativity, collaboration and critical thinking.”

“I think it expands the way you learn,” parents club President Ruth Gray says in one of the many video segments that are part of the virtual booklet.

“The fact that AMS has received three awards consecutively within a short four year span is amazing,” Superintendent Phyllis Parisi said. “I cannot find one other school to have received the honor.”

Also in the celebratory tone, Avery Principal Christine Cearley and Parisi told trustees that Avery Middle School is in the application process to receive a California Distinguished School Award. Parisi also surprised Cearley by announcing that she will receive the Association of California School Administrators Administrator of the Year Award for Region 7 – which includes Amador, Calaveras, Tuolumne, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties – in the new year.

 
 

© 2013 Calaveras Enterprise. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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