Construction and changes in technology, schedule and security face district in 2013-2014
Noblesville High School students will be on the cutting edge of technology starting this fall. As part of its 1:1 program, the district has purchased enough iPads for every student to use one throughout the school day and year. Each student in grades 10 through 12 will receive an iPad they can keep until the end of the year and potentially even through summer break.
“Teachers are doing some very engaging things with the iPads,” NHS Principal Jeff Bryant said. “They are excited about it. They know the impact it will have on students.”
Technology Instructional Coach Christy Steffen said teachers have been training with iPads since January
“Teachers are looking at curriculum and focusing on 21st Century Skills. Technology is just a piece of that,” she said. “It’s an amazing opportunity for us. Our teachers are so excited and on board. They are looking at innovative ways to incorporate it into the classroom.”
“I like them. It’s more advanced for our school,” senior Shannon Fairlie said. “Not all books are online and not everyone has internet at home.”
Steffen said the school-issued iPads will be filtered through the high school’s internet “no matter where they are, even at home.” Students will be allowed to download apps, but ones rated for 13 and older will be blocked. While students can bring their own iPads in, only ones with the school profile can access the internet.
“Students have access to information. They can navigate the world as it is now and not how it was,” Steffen said.
“It opens up opportunities for teachers – more interaction textbooks,” sophomore Alyse Millikan said. “It prepares us more for what they do outside (of high school),”
Benefits of the iPads include the reduction of paper, an increase in student engagement, flexibility with learning and credit recovery and the elimination of most computer labs, which saves the district $175,000 and will provide five additional classrooms of space.
“They’re doing it to reduce your book load. I can’t forget my notes because it will be on my iPad, which will be a good thing,” sophomore John Kiser said.
What else is new?
Noblesville Schools’ principals explain what will be different at their buildings this fall:
Hazel Dell – Four new teachers: Colleen Jacobs, third grade; Ben Juffer, fifth; Shawn Davis, fourth; and Christine Van Dam, second.
Hinkle Creek – A new Language Arts program called Journeys will be implemented in all grade levels and a new climbing wall in the East gym will be a part of the physical education curriculum.
Noble Crossing – Third-grade teachers have received a grant from Vectren to purchase 30 iPad-Minis to use in their classrooms. All classrooms have easier access to technology as mobile labs and iPad labs have been moved from the library out into the building. Each grade level has a mobile lab and iPad lab to share.
North – The school welcomes William Fama who will be teaching fourth grade.
Promise Road and Stony Creek – Project Fit America equipment is being installed and programming will begin this fall. This will be Noblesville’s third and fourth elementary schools to join the PFA program.
White River – 102 area kindergartners starting school
NHS – 2,000 iPads will be in the hands of students in grades 10-12 and will be used for instructional purposes.
NEWS and NWMS – The middle schools will begin offering Project Lead the Way’s “Gateway to Technology” pre-engineering program as a part of their nine-week rotation of classes. NEMS will pilot a 1:1 initiative with iPads in the seventh-grade social studies classes and NWMS will pilot the initiative in sixth-grade social studies classes. NEMS welcomes Jen Schott as seventh-grade counselor and eight new teachers; NWMS welcomes Ara Nelson Mercer as assistant principal and seven new teachers.
Central office – The Noblesville Schools’ administrative and support staff moved into the new Educational Services Center at 18025 River Rd. just north of Marsh Supermarket. The center houses the superintendent’s office as well as offices for the district departments of curriculum, technology, student services, human resources, business, food services, community relations and operations. The district office phone number is unchanged (773-3171).
District begins balanced calendar
Noblesville Schools gauged the community and despite some objections, approved a balanced calendar starting with this school year in October 2012. While other school districts within Hamilton County begin two weeks later, Noblesville Schools starts Aug. 1.
Officials said balanced calendar advantages include reductions in summer learning loss, less remediation, improved attendance, increased opportunities for student internships, reduction in the number of student referrals for behavior, student and staff rejuvenation, off-peak travel times for families, ease in scheduling medical appointments and no significant change in energy costs.
Important Dates: Aug. 1 – Start of school; Sept. 27 – Homecoming; Oct. 14-25 – Fall Break; Nov. 27-29 – Thanksgiving Break; Dec. 23-Jan. 6 – Winter Break; March 31-April 11 – Spring Break; and May 30 – Last day of school.
Supt. Libbie Conner said having the two-week breaks are not the issue, rather it is the direct impact on achievement from them.
“Students and staff coming back relaxed and refreshed is the bigger issue,” she said.
Challenges of the change include difficulty adjusting to the new schedule in the first year; less time for major construction, renovation projects and custodial cleaning; and schedule adjustments for summer school and athletics.
Noblesville students said the schedule change will not affect them.
“I like starting early, but wish I could go back on Monday (Aug. 5) because Band Day is on the second day of school,” senior Kendall Gatewood said.
“The extra time off during the break will be good, but I don’t like the summer being cut short,” Sophomore John Kiser said. “It won’t bother me. I won’t notice it (starting early).”
Securing access to buildings
Noblesville Schools is taking measures to ensure its security is the best available at all of its buildings and is implementing a new security system this school year.
The biggest change for parents and others visiting a school will be the fact that they will enter a secure vestibule before entering the school itself. In addition to securing vestibules, the district has installed video phone systems in all elementary and middle schools to allow communication between a guest and the school’s receptionist. Guests will be allowed into the office area only after their identity has been established and the reason for the visit verified by the school receptionist.
“This way, we know it’s a person that should be here,” Student Services Director Mark Booth said. “Once inside the lobby, we will scan the back of a driver’s license or ID card and run a check on the national sex offender list before they are allowed entrance.”
Identification information will be entered securely into a database and maintained for future visits. After identification information is established, all visitors will have their picture taken, receive a photo identification badge that is valid for one day, and then be allowed to continue to their destination.
Booth said if a problem occurs, secretaries will have a panic button that sends text alerts to administration officials to report to the office. Like entrance into the office, a visitor must be buzzed through a secure door to enter the school’s hallway.
Hard hat areas
Construction will take place at Noblesville High School’s Main Campus and Freshman Campus as Noblesville Schools prepares for the 2014-2015 school year. With the sale of Noblesville East Middle School, the district will transform the Freshman Campus to the new NEMS.
Construction will take place during the school year, but it should not interfere with students in the classroom. Conner said Promise Road Elementary was built in 11 months and the most recent additions from the 2010 referendum were done during the school year.
“The additions will all be outside so the only interference is parking and traffic flow,” she said. “Next summer will be huge in terms of finishing up without students around.”
Performance Services, Inc. has been hired to handle the construction. They built the additions to the elementary schools in 2010 and the new administration building this year.
“We have had excellent results with the company,” Conner said. “They do what we need them to do and have done it well in a short period of time.”
Jerry Rolfson of Performance Services said NHS will have additional classrooms for Project Lead the Way, performing arts and a larger band room. A two-story addition for freshman classrooms and new administration office will connect with a new front entrance.
“We’ll carry through the image of the building, making it look like it’s always been there,” Rolfson said.
The Freshman Campus will have a new drop-off location and its looping corridor system and will have dead ends removed.
“Small rooms will be renovated and expanded. We’ll increase window sizes to give a contemporary feel to the building and more natural light into the classroom,” Rolfson said.
The baseball diamond will have to be replaced but the tennis courts will remain.