B-H teachers share the joy of learning with other educators

March 5, 2013 — By Justin Peeper

“We’re happy to do it because that’s how we learned.”
Bluffton High School Principal Steve Baker shared those comments in The News-Banner last week when he was interviewed after a group of educators visited Bluffton-Harrison classrooms.
The visiting superintendents, principals and teachers were in the Parlor City to learn from Bluffton-Harrison educators about how to bring a one-to-one technology initiative to their districts. About 90 educators toured the district’s schools after officials from Apple selected Bluffton-Harrison to host the event.
Why Bluffton, you might ask? Apple officials had heard so much praise from others who had visited Bluffton-Harrison that they selected the district to host the event, as education reporter Chet Baumgartner highlighted in his story last week.
That’s right ... 90 educators from 20 school districts spent the day visiting 15 Bluffton high school, middle school and elementary school classrooms.
More visits are currently being planned, as educators from other school districts want to learn from Bluffton-Harrison teachers, administrators and students about how to best launch a one-to-one technology initiative in their communities.
Superintendent Wayne Barker pointed out that the district has had such success with its one-to-one iPad initiative because of teachers’ willingness to embrace and best use the technology.
We’ve all known for some time that Bluffton and Wells County are known around the state as leaders in a myriad of initiatives, and the same is true in education circles when the name Bluffton-Harrison emerges.
Since August 2009 Barker, the Bluffton-Harrison school board, teachers and administrators have worked to transform the district into one of the most tech savvy educational institutes in the state as they teach 21st century skills to prepare students for the changing world.
School board members in the fall of 2009 committed to improving the district’s technology and since then students have seen two noteworthy changes: iPads and SMART boards, 87-inch interactive white boards that students and teachers use in the classroom. Students’ tablets can communicate with the interactive boards to make presentations to share with the rest of the class. Bluffton-Harrison has also spent a considerable amount of time training its teachers.
The visiting educators observed teachers incorporating these tools into their lessons during last week’s visit. We have no doubt that they were impressed with what they saw.
Technology is playing an increasing role in our lives at an even younger age than most of us realize, and this trend will continue. Bluffton-Harrison educators, however, understand this concept and in many ways are well ahead of the curve.
But what is equally as noteworthy is their willingness to teach others around the state and nation how to incorporate iPads or other devices into their schools — powerful tools that will help educators better prepare students for the future.
As principal Baker said, Bluffton-Harrison educators are happy to share what they’ve learned with others because the district’s teachers learned the same way. Such a desire to teach others is commendable and worthy of praise.
Bluffton-Harrison continues to be a cutting-edge district not only in technology, but also in collaboration and communication. School leaders are modeling the 21st century skills students are learning in all three of the district’s schools.
It makes me proud to be an alumnus.
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