Glasgow Daily Times, Glasgow, KY

Local News

May 15, 2014

Metcalfe County High School gets $100K learning grant

GLASGOW — Metcalfe County High School has been awarded a $100,000 National Breakthrough School planning grant from the Next Generation Learning Challenge that will focus on personalized learning.

MCHS is one of eight schools out of more than 90 applicants nationwide to receive a grant. The awards are part of an NGLC initiative that began two years ago, and schools receiving the grants were selected for having the most promising school visions and leadership teams, according to a news release from Metcalfe County Schools.  

Metcalfe County Superintendent Dr. Benny Lile said he was excited to learn of the award in late April.

“Anytime you can be recognized by a national organization, if I’m not mistaken only eight were awarded … that would make anyone feel good,” he said.

The money will be used to emphasize personalized learning through a blend of classroom and online instruction, he said.

With the grant funding, students may take classes online that are not offered at MCHS. They could also be given more flexible schedules that allow them to study outside the typical classroom setting. The courses they choose could be either electives or core content-type classes, he said.

“This is a planning grant, so a lot of what we will be doing is trying out different scenarios and seeing how they work,” Lile said.

The school system is planning to use the Florida Global Virtual Schools content courses for the online classes, and may use Barren Academy of Virtual and Extended Learning personnel for some training and access to courses it doesn’t have, Lile said in an subsequent email.

“We are investigating other content providers as well,” Lile said in the email.

A steering committee will begin the initial work for the project. The committee will be directed by Race to the Top counselor Eric Sexton, MCHS teacher Jessica Miles and District Director of Digital Learning Matt Shirley.

The grant will supplement what the school doesn’t already receive in Race to the Top funding, Sexton said. Because MCHS is a small school, the number of electives it can offer students is limited.

“With these funds we will be able to provide software that will enable students to take more electives online,” Sexton said.

MCHS Principal Kelly Bell said she thinks the high school students will like having more flexible schedules.

“I really do think students like to go beyond the school walls to further their education,” she said.

An example would be allowing students to take more Advanced Placement courses than the school already makes available. MCHS offers nine AP classes at the school now, but AP Government was not one of them. So, students who want to take that class do so online with support from a MCHS teacher, she said.

“The neat thing is they can do it at home and come back the next day and ask the teacher for any help they might need for the online class,” Bell said.

A class such as AP Government could count as an elective for students if they have already fulfilled their social studies requirement, she said.

Bell also thinks MCHS students will appreciate offerings that will help them to obtain some type of certification or college pathway.

NGLC is managed by nonprofit education organization EDUCAUSE in conjunction with partners including the International Association for K-12 Online Learning and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The grant was funded by the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Some of the classes will be available in the fall.

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