Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hello Alaska!

I had one of my more enjoyable Board of Education meetings last evening when we demonstrated the possibilities of our new video conferencing equipment by taking a virtual field trip to Alaska.

We were greeted (in real-time) by a wonderful young lady who described what Alaska was like, and how her sled dog organization could teach children about science, math, and health. She then switched to an outdoor camera where our whole group (audience included) met an Alaskan Huskie named "Creamer" and his musher.

His musher was very friendly and talked to us about his dog and about how the dogs are cared for, etc... At the end of our demonstration, he placed the dog back into his pen and asked us to say goodbye to the dogs by howling and barking. I could feel the tension in the crowd because adults "aren't supposed to have fun", but howl and bark we did and to our amazement the dogs on the other end heard us and stood up and began howling themselves!

I am very thankful that we have a video-conferencing unit in each building and the learning and enrichment opportunities are endless. Thanks to Bill Roberge, our Director of Technology, for arranging everything for us on our end.

Before the Board meeting the Board was given a "tour" and a hands on demonstration of our Promethean Boards as well. The Board got to use the "boards" and Laura Cantone and Jen McArthur (East Hill Elementary School) created some wonderful flip-charts for them to use. They also filmed their students who taught the Board members how to use each of the major items on the toolbar for the Promethean Boards. It was great to see people being actively engaged in a Board setting just as I see students engaged every day in classrooms. Nicely done!

Prior to all of this good news, I attended probably the most depressing meeting that I have EVER attended in my entire life. The meeting centered around the State budget and the impact any changes to the budget will have on our students and programs. As I mentioned in a previous post, we are okay for this year because we planned for a mid-year cut in funding from the State but no one knows what is going to happen moving forward. I was very frustrated because it is difficult to create budget scenarios moving forward until the State makes the first move. We have the brain power and desire in our District to make things work even if the outlook is bleak, we just need our top governing body to make some decisions so we can move forward.

Tonight is going to be nice. First is my youngest son's modified basketball game followed by C.O.D.E. graduation at Stonehedge Elementary School followed by my oldest son's concert at the high school. Life is a blur right now.