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Middlesex public schools open Tuesday

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Middlesex County Public Schools are decorated and ready to welcome back students on Tuesday, September 3. Above, Simon Unsworth meets his eighth grade English teacher, Linden Barrick (right), as teacher Annie Somerville looks on. (Photo by Tom Chillemi)

Over 1,230 students are expected when Middlesex County Public Schools (MCPS) open on Tuesday, September 3.

The county school system will continue its lead in computer facilitated learning in 2013-14 by issuing Android tablet computers to students at Middlesex High School.

Last year, Middlesex Elementary School fifth-graders were issued iPads, putting the power of the Internet in the hands of students.

Building on that success, students at the high school will each receive an Android tablet computer to use during class time. The Kuno IV system is built specifically for education. Students will be able to submit assignments electronically and save documents and assignments to storage space on the school’s virtual cloud.

The Kuno system is slated to begin in the fall semester at MHS.

Middlesex County Public Schools is one of the few school systems in the area with this level of technology, said MCPS superintendent Dr. Thomas Taylor. The public schools have a duty “to prepare our students for the reality of computer facilitated learning by teaching them how you use these electronic devices ethically and effectively.” Dr. Taylor’s message follows:

by Dr. Thomas W. Taylor,
Superintendent of Schools

With the beginning of another new school year, students, families and teachers in the Middlesex County Public Schools will notice a new focus. With the recent School Board adoption of “Navigation 2020: A Strategic Plan for Preparing Learners, Citizens, and Leaders in Middlesex County,” we have put our attention toward preparing our students for the local and global economies of tomorrow through scholarship, citizenship, and leadership development.

Navigation 2020 sets the ambitious but attainable goal of 100% on-time graduation, with the desired outcome of having our students exceed academic and industry certification requirements upon graduation. We also want our students to become more effective in-depth thinkers, collaborators, and communicators. Ultimately, we believe that if we instill these skills in our students, they will become future oriented, responsible citizens with a passion for their future career paths.

Within the pages of the new strategic plan, Navigation 2020 reemphasizes strategies for the implementation of excellent instruction, safer schools, and community involvement, while introducing strategies that support balanced assessments and the development of excellent teachers and staff.

To make the vision and goals of Navigation 2020 a reality, Middlesex County Public Schools will build on its strong foundation of recent successes, while adding new instructional innovations that strengthen ties to our community and develop proficiencies that will inspire students to set personal and professional objectives, ultimately making them more viable in their lives after high school than their peers from neighboring localities.

Development as a successful learner, citizen and leader begins long before high school. To guide students on their learning journey is a newly revised and more robust “Program of Study.” We have plans to expand our recently revised high school Program of Study to contain career pathways for students in our elementary school and middle school. The Program of Study encompasses learning options for students that extend beyond just a list of course offerings. The Program of Study is a map identifying potential learning scenarios that could lead to industry certifications and/or the highest level of academic course offerings. As a regional partner with several other neighboring school divisions, we have unique opportunities to provide our students a wealth of specialized learning services, and we look forward to maximizing the options available to our students at the Chesapeake Bay Governor’s School, Bridging Communities Career and Technical Education Center, Rappahannock Community College, Middle Peninsula Regional Special Education Program, and other regional program partners.

Building on the success of our 5th grade iPad initiative, students at the high school will each receive an Android tablet computer this fall to help facilitate advanced teaching and learning during their time at school. Students will be issued Kuno IV tablets (built specifically for education) each day to use during class time. Students will be able to submit assignments electronically and save documents and assignments to virtual storage space on the school’s virtual cloud. No matter what our students choose to do after high school, we know that they will be expected to be proficient and ethical users of electronic devices. This learning solution is destined to lighten backpacks and lessen paper consumption over time, saving the county immeasurable sums while forwarding advanced methods of student learning. It is also a moral imperative for Middlesex County Public Schools to prepare our students for the reality of computer facilitated learning by teaching them how to use these devices ethically and effectively. This investment in our community’s youth will net dividends that will continue to be evident for generations. 

There is a strong statistical correlation between student involvement in extracurricular activities and academic achievement. We are excited about the ongoing construction of the Syd Thrift Athletic Complex at Middlesex High School. This athletic complex will be the premier athletic facility in the region and it will bring baseball and tennis back to the high school campus in Saluda. Fund-raising efforts are presently under way and community members are encouraged to support this project by contacting the Friends of Middlesex County Public Schools, Attn: Carolyn Boxley. P.O. Box 353, Saluda, VA 23149.

As we continue our efforts to maintain safe schools, improvements are being implemented. Through the process of an energy performance contract, much-needed capital improvements that will improve school safety and energy efficiency are under way. Through our new energy performance contract, capital improvements will be made at each school, with focused attention to HVAC systems, security systems, doors, utility systems, and windows, all of which will increase energy efficiency and security.

We continue to be proud of our schools and their many accomplishments and we look forward to what the future holds. It is an exciting time to be a part of the Middlesex County Public Schools! We are continually grateful for the support of our families and community partners as we prepare our students for success in the local and global economies of tomorrow. Thank you for your continued support in making the Middlesex County Public Schools an outstanding place for students to learn.

For more information about Navigation 2020, our Program of Study, and our plans for the Syd Thrift Athletic Complex, please visit our website at http://www.mcps.k12.va.us. For more information about the Kuno tablet computer, please visit the website http://www.mykuno.com

posted 08.28.2013

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