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RCEA wants more input into training

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By Jessica Farrish 
(Beckley) Register-Herald Reporter 

BECKLEY — A Raleigh County teacher’s union representative said Tuesday that teachers would like the Raleigh Board of Education to hire a superintendent who will improve teacher morale and implement classroom technology in a way that is relevant to student needs.

Marie Hamrick, West Virginia Education Association-Raleigh County co-president, made her remarks after current Raleigh Schools Superintendent Jim Brown announced at a special BOE meeting Tuesday that he will resign, effective June 30.

Brown launched the iRaleigh Initiative, which placed an iPad with each Raleigh student as the first step in moving the district school system toward technology-based learning within a five-year span.

BOE President Rick Snuffer said board members are beginning the search for a new superintendent who will assume the position July 1.

The position will be advertised within the next couple of weeks, said Snuffer, and board members will hire from the pool of in-state and out-of-state applicants who answer the advertisement.

Hamrick said teachers want a superintendent who “can bring our county together.”

“I think we’re going to need somebody that can ... listen to what educators say is going on in their classrooms and find a way to use the programs (including iRaleigh Initiative, Engrade) in a productive way,” said Hamrick. “The first thing we’re going to have to do is get the morale in this county up.

“You can’t play like it’s not an issue, because it is.

“The second thing would be to have employees included and hear their input into the direction the county needs to go.”

Hamrick said the development of centralized, comprehensive technology training for educators that is designed in cooperation with teachers and that is relevant to classroom instruction and student and teacher needs should be a strong goal for any new superintendent so that technology is implemented in ways that provide maximum benefits to students and schools.

The implementation of the technology should closely follow teacher training so that the transition process isn’t disruptive to student learning, she added.

According to Hamrick, teachers favor the use of technology that was established under the iRaleigh Initiative and under Engrade, an online grading system.

Hamrick added, however, that teachers want more input into the technology implementation and training process since they are working with students in classrooms and know their needs.

“It’s not that anybody is against technology,” she said. “We all know it’s here.

“Teachers are on board with a move toward technology-based learning, but there needs to be a process to it.

“It needs to be well thought out and well-planned,” added Hamrick. “We feel like it hasn’t been.”

Hamrick said central office technology experts are “knowledgeable” and “very good at their jobs” but added that teachers are available to offer input into developing training programs that are more relevant to classroom needs.

“They’re very good trainers,” she said. “We just need training that’s more in line with what teachers need for the programs they’ve been given.

“The training teachers need for classroom work needs to relate directly to what they’re doing in the classrooms.”