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February 9, 2007 Summit Daily Article

 

Facing the future of education

LORY POUNDER
Summit Daily News
Summit County, CO Colorado
February 9, 2007


FRISCO Educators, students and community members at the Our Future Summit forum Thursday night tackled topics focused on the future of education, including ever-advancing technology and skills needed for a global world.

Being culturally versed life-long learners with basic "soft skills" including team building, strong work ethics, leadership abilities and initiative were qualities the panel believes students need to be successful.

Panel member Stephen Ludwig, University of Colorado regent at-large, said students should be flexible and adaptable to compete in the international job market.

"I don't think any specific technology is key ... but the ability to learn new technology," Ludwig said. "We need to make sure individuals are comfortable and can learn quickly. ... This is the 21st century version of shop."

Also, being able to decipher credible information on the internet should be taught, he added.

Jimmy Keeling, Summit High School senior, said this has been a focus in his classes. He added, "Let me have an hour with a certain program and I'll probably figure it out."

The high school has three computer labs and technology classes that range from Excel and Flash programs to digital video and audio instruction, continued panel member Laura Dickinson, Career and Technical Education director. However, there is currently only a one-credit requirement for technology - something that should be looked at in the future, she added.

Sheila Groneman, director of Head Start and Summit School District School Board director, commented on the importance of early childhood education.

"In order for our children to be successful, they need to come to school ready to learn," she said, adding that a key learning foundation takes place between pre-school and third grade. "The future is here. They're staring with us now. It's a digital world and it's preparing our students for a life we really can't even imagine."

References to "Tough Choices or Tough Times," a report by the Nation Center on Education and the economy surfaced throughout the discussion.

According to the report, American students and young adults fall anywhere from the "middle to the bottom of the pack" in mathematics, science and general literacy among advanced industrial nations. Also, it references the competition that will be created through outsourcing to workers in other countries who can do the job better and more cheaply - basically saying that Americans need to be able to offer something additional to stay in the market.

"I think teaching Spanish reflects Summit County today ... and teaching Chinese and Arabic reflects tomorrow," Ludwig said. Teaching students those languages would really be forward-thinking and that would give them a competitive edge, he said.

Those who attended the forum at the Summit County Community and Senior Center near Frisco asked the panel about how students get real-world experience, the school climate and what the academic gap at the school is like. Also, after a community member raised the issue of embracing the school's diverse population and culture, with 25 percent being part of the English Language Acquisition program, another community member strongly disagreed.

To answer the community, Career and Technical Education and internships are offered at the school, Dickinson said. The senior high school students on the panel, Keeling and Chase Kelley, said school climate is safe and welcoming.

As for the academic gap, "There is a gap at the high school and it's noticeable," Kelley said. However, "there's classes for everyone and opportunities to challenge yourself."

Keeling added that the 900 students are all individuals and everyone has their own personal motivation.

Evie Hudak, Colorado Board of Education member, said bridging the achievement gap, encouraging higher education and early education are areas that the state needs to focus on.

"Colorado needs to do better," she said.

Lory Pounder can be reached at (970) 668-4628, or at lpounder@summitdaily.com.

February 8, 2007 Summit Daily News Article

 

Our Future Summit takes on future of education Thursday

SUMMIT COUNTY - What abilities should Summit County's kids have to succeed in 2017? What resources could we be providing them so they have the skills necessary to compete in an increasingly competitive global economy?

Millie Hamner and Jennifer Kermode will facilitate a community forum designed to identify and discuss the range of learning assets our community will require including academic, vocational, public, private and alternative education alternatives, this Thursday evening, Feb. 8 at the Summit County Community and Senior Center near Frisco starting at 7 p.m.

The Summit School District superintendent and Our Future Summit board member, respectively, will draw on the experience and perspective of a range of stakeholders including Sheila Groneman, executive director of Summit County Head Start and school board member; Evie Hudak, a member of the State Board of Education; newly-elected CU regent Steve Ludwig and home school teacher Cheryl Bristol.

Areas of discussion include:

n What new skills might our children need over the next 5 to 10 years?

n Are Federal and state testing mandates too rigid for all children?

n What alternative education options are available and needed?

n Are there sufficient funds for schools and are they distributed appropriately?

n What is the status of arts and athletics in our schools now and in the future?

The goal of the forum is to bring the community more fully into the discussion into what it's going to take for our kids to thrive once they're out of school as well as provide an opportunity for decision makers to better understand and appreciate the opinions of community members.

The forum is free and open to the public. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m., when light snacks and soft drinks will be available.