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Shentel supports Shenandoah County innovation project

Posted 17 September 2013 12:00 AM by Shentel

Shentel became one of the first community partners to participate in the inaugural funding efforts for The Instructional Challenge and Innovation Project of Shenandoah County Public Schools.

The program will provide funding for a project related to improving instruction through engaging and emergent teaching and learning approaches.  These projects will be utilized to identify successful teaching techniques that can be shared and promoted throughout the Shenandoah County instructional staff.

This project is based upon the idea that the system’s own teachers are its greatest resource, said Ebbie Linaberg, assistant superintendent for curriculum, instruction and assessment. “It’s an effort to go beyond the SOLs (Standards of Learning). It rewards innovative teachers, but it also improves instruction.”

“Innovation is a word that Shentel respects,” said Shentel VP Willy Pirtle. “We also historically have supported education. This program’s goal is to create research-based instructional strategies which will benefit the entire school system, teachers and students alike.”

Teachers, instructional assistants, and administrators are eligible to submit proposals which describe innovative instructional strategies that are not widely utilized by SCPS at this time. Those proposals that are accepted will be given grant monies to implement the strategies and to track the success or limitations to success with their students. 

“This will highlight ways to improve our teaching of essential skills, such as critical thinking, problem solving, integration of technology to enhance learning, and many others,” added Linaberg.

The Instructional Challenge and Innovation Project is different from the long-standing  Moore Grant in that it focuses only on instructional strategies and classroom methods that will advance learning.  Successful strategies and practices will then be shared with other teachers within the system so that they can also implement these practices.  

Project proposals should be linked to the essential skills necessary for students to acquire in order to succeed in college and the workplace. These skills cannot always be measured by standardized tests but are important to cultivate. The skills include but are not limited to critical thinking, student design/production, creativity, collaboration and authentic learning among others.

The Instructional Challenge and Innovation Project has immense potential to create positive long-term influences in Shenandoah County Public Schools.  Recipients of project funds will share their ideas across the division in summer workshops, said Linaberg. Their ideas will not only be shared with other teachers but will be embedded in the Instructional Framework being developed.  Sharing these innovations will also highlight their importance and greatly enhance our capacity to support teachers in their professional growth in instruction.  In addition, these innovative strategies will enrich the learning experiences of our students.

This project is a result of discussions with the School Board and directly relates to the SCPS Comprehensive Plan Goals and the recently adopted 2013 School Board Goals. The Instructional Challenge and Innovation Project is being supported and partially funded by the Shenandoah Education Foundation and Shentel.