National School Counseling Week

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Worthington Direct would like to thank all of the hard-working student counselors during this National School Counseling Week.  They know best how to handle class schedules, college planning and daily student issues.  But if you have any questions about school furniture, give the school counselor a break and ask Worthington Direct to counsel.  Visit www.worthingtondirect.com today!

National School Counseling Week, which is always the first full week of February, honors school guidance counselors for the importance they play in their students’ academic and personal lives. Each education level, whether it is elementary, middle or high school, requires a certain approach to meeting the needs of the students. Few people outside the school walls fully understand the many different roles and enormous responsibility school counselors shoulder.

Debbie Nerren, the school guidance counselor at G. R. Stuart Elementary, is one such individual. “At the elementary level, we do a variety of things, such as individual and group counseling with children, classroom guidance lessons and projects, character education, career days, behavioral and academic assessments and overseeing TCAP and other standardized testing,” said Nerren.

Students are told at the beginning of the school year they can come to Nerren with problems and she will work with them on an individual level. For group counseling, she addresses issues such as anger management and divorce for students experiencing these situations. With classroom guidance projects, Nerren said this year’s focus is on Second Step. Twice a year, Nerren teaches violence prevention curriculum. The character education covers “the whole gamut” by teaching friendship skills, conflict resolution and other character building lessons. Nerren stresses the most important role a school guidance counselor has is to serve as a liaison between the schools and outside professional agencies the families and students may need. “We have what’s called an S-Team, which is made up of the guidance counselor, the special services teacher, the speech pathologist, the school psychologist, the principal, teacher, literacy coach, parents and the student.

The S-Team basically makes a decision on what is best for the student with his or her particular problem. We come up with a solution based on a behavioral or academic plan. “Anytime a student is referred, we test to see if they qualify for special outside help. We sometimes set families up with learning supplement specialists who are professional counselors,” said Nerren. Nerren said between planning career days and being a part of the S-Team, counselors have a multitude of duties and a tremendous amount of responsibility as educators. “We wear many hats.

Counselors today are called on to help with many things. I believe a counselor does see his or her position as serving teachers, families and students. They are called upon to serve the entire school as best we can. Each one of us would say we love what we do because it is very rewarding,” said Nerren. Luz Lamneck and Tammy Guthrie, counselors at Cleveland Middle Schoo, echoed those sentiments. Lamneck is in her first year as a guidance counselor; she did teach for Hamilton County Schools.

“What I like about being a guidance counselor is the different type of relationship you can have with the kids versus being a teacher. I like to bond with kids. The counseling aspect to me is more personable and involved and not so much about discipline,” said Lamneck. Guthrie, who has worked at Cleveland Middle School since 2001, agrees school guidance counselors “wear many hats.” Continue reading

Classrooms Monitored by the Green Team

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 Classroom furniture isn’t made like it used to be, it’s made better and with the student’s health in mind.  Worthington Direct has many popular classroom furniture pieces, such as stack chairs and student desks, that meet or exceed Greenguard Certification.  Visit www.worthingtondirect.com today and do your part to help the “Green Team” out.

 Sixth-grader Sophie Chang stood in front of a computer monitor near a teacher’s desk in a darkened classroom at Julius West Middle School in Rockville. “Yeah, it’s not off. That’s not good,” she said, flicking off the power switch and making a note on a sheet of paper. But the lights were off and the blinds and windows closed, so she gave Room 126 a score of three points out of a possible four on a report card issued by the school’s Green Team, an after-school club dedicated to promoting energy conservation among students and staff members.

Chang and fellow members of the Green Team, which meets Wednesdays, were conducting one of their regular spot-checks to find out whether teachers were taking some simple steps to conserve energy. “Let’s see if the teachers are any more efficient than they were before winter break,” Green Team sponsor and science teacher Nancy Dorne said before the students, armed with report cards that they would tape to classroom doors, fanned through the hallways.

As the classrooms were being checked, about two dozen other team members collected paper, bottles and cans for recycling from blue bins outside classroom doors. The team at Julius West is among 42 Green Teams at county middle and high schools, all organized under the school system’s Green Schools program, which promotes efficient and responsible energy use, program manager Karen Anderson said. Schools must apply to be part of the program; those that are accepted are given tools, such as light meters and infrared temperature guns, to measure energy use.

Schools compete for annual awards of up to $5,000 based on a percentage of energy savings. During the 2006-07 school year, Julius West received $3,400. Four middle and four high schools received $5,000: Winston Churchill High School in Potomac; James Hubert Blake High School in Silver Spring; Damascus High School; John F. Kennedy High School in Silver Spring; Kingsview Middle School in Germantown; North Bethesda Middle School; Silver Spring International Middle School; and Tilden Middle School in Rockville.

Last year, the school system saved $1.2 million in electricity costs through conservation measures implemented by Green Teams, said Anderson, who initiated the Green Schools program five years ago. “Electricity is our most expensive fuel, and [conservation measures] can make a huge difference here,” she said. Anderson said that the measurement tools help students and staff members understand the concept of energy, which can be difficult to grasp because it isn’t tangible. “But if you can measure it, it suddenly becomes real,” she said. Green teams focus on conserving energy by promoting actions such as turning off lights and computers when not in use.

With the help of teams, some schools have reduced the amount of fluorescent lighting and replaced bulbs with more efficient ones. Continue reading

Virco Sponsers NASSP Award

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Debbie Hill, assistant principal at Ledford Middle School, said she was honored to be named the 2008 North Carolina State Assistant Principal of the Year. "I really don’t know how to describe it," she said about winning the award.

Hill, 50, grew up in Thomasville and graduated from Thomasville High School in 1975. She then attended the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting in 1979. "I didn’t start out with education," she said. "I thought that (accounting) was what I wanted to do." After working in accounting for five years, Hill decided after having her first child in 1984 that accounting wasn’t the job for her. She took a year off and then went back to UNCG in 1985 to complete the course work to become certified in middle school education with a concentration in math and science. "That’s what I should have done in the first place," she said.

While in school Hill also had her second child before finishing her course work in December 1987. She then took a math position at North Davidson High School. In August 1988, she went to Tyro Middle to teach math and science to seventh- and eighth-graders. She stayed there for 16 years. "I love teaching," she said. "I love working with middle-school age kids. I felt I had something to offer them."

She received a master’s degree in school administration from Gardner-Webb University in 2003 and became the assistant principal at Ledford Middle in 2004. "I was ready for a change," she said. "I was ready to move on to something else." Ledford Middle Principal Evan Myers is the one who nominated and encouraged Hill to apply for the state title. "She’s great," Myers said. "She does a little bit of everything. I’m thrilled to death to have her on my staff."

Every year the National Association of Secondary School Principals and the National Assistant Principal of the Year Program honor an assistant principal from each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools. Also, a national winner will be selected from those chosen to represent each state. "I’m representing North Carolina for NASSP," Hill said.

The NASSP is an organization for middle level and high school administrators that provides its members with the professional resources to serve as visionary leaders. It also promotes intellectual growth, academic achievement, character development, leadership development and physical well-being of youths through its programs and students leadership services. To be recognized as a state assistant principal of the year, Hill had to demonstrate success in areas such as collaborate leadership, curriculum instruction and assessment and personalization. Dr. Fred Mock, superintendent for Davidson County Schools, said assistant principals have many roles in public schools. "This is an awesome award," Mock said. "Debbie is very dedicated to the needs of the middle-school children. We’re proud to have her as a representative of Davidson County Schools."

Hill will be honored among other state and national winners at a black-tie event in Washington, D.C., in the spring. While in Washington, the honorees will have the opportunity to participate in professional development and networking activities with their peers. VIRCO, a school furniture manufacturer, is the sole sponsor of the NASSP State and National Assistant Principal of the Year Program. Continue reading

Classroom Technology Reinvents the Pop Quiz

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GREAT NECK, N.Y. — The games had begun. In a darkened classroom at Great Neck South High School on a recent afternoon, the Advanced Placement physics students sped through a pop quiz, furiously pressing keys on hand-held clickers. A projection screen tracked their responses in real time, showing who knew what through an animated display of spaceships — individually numbered for each student — that blasted off or fell by the wayside with each right or wrong answer.

Worthington Direct has great prices and selection on audio visual furniture for the classroom or computer lab.  Visit www.worthingtondirect.com today and find the right classroom furniture, whether high-tech or low-tech.

As students in Matt Sckalor’s physics class at Great Neck South High School click their answers, the results go up on a screen. They can instantly see their progress, and how the class did. The students were not competing for grades (it was only a practice quiz), but they certainly acted as if they were. “Let’s go, let’s go!” yelled a boy from the back of the class. “What’s the next question?”

The Great Neck district has been introducing the clickers in an effort to liven up traditional classroom teaching with a more interactive approach. After a successful test at one of its high schools, Great Neck expanded the technology to other schools. The clickers are part of an increasingly popular technology known as an audience response system, which has been used for everything from surveying game show audiences to polling registered voters. That technology is now spreading to public and private schools across the country.

The Los Angeles school district has spent about $503,000 to buy clickers for more than two dozen middle schools since 2005, district officials said. Smaller districts in the Dallas and Atlanta suburbs have also invested in them, according to school officials and companies that manufacture the devices.

In New York City, a dozen schools across the five boroughs have experimented with the devices. And in St. Paul, the clickers are routinely used to train teachers and administrators and to get reaction from parents at community meetings. In a typical system, the clickers record data from individuals, and transmit that information, through wireless technology, to a computer program. The program can instantly display the results, tally them and present them in elaborate spreadsheets and eye-catching graphics like spaceships or “Jeopardy!”-style boards. It can track the percentage of correct answers received for each question as well as the participation rate among all users.

The growth of the clicker technology in schools has been “very big and fast paced,” said Jaci Hendricks, a spokeswoman for Qwizdom, one of several companies that manufacture the clickers. In the last five years alone, Qwizdom has supplied more than 750,000 clickers to schools nationwide, including those in Great Neck, New York City and Los Angeles. In Great Neck, the district spent $18,000 to buy the clickers after its technology director, Marc Epstein, saw them at education conferences. He thought they presented an advance over earlier classroom technology, which he said had focused on providing hardware to students (desktop computers, laptops and printers, for example), or helping teachers deliver lessons (“smart boards” and projectors).

In contrast, he said, the clickers used technology to assess student learning. Mr. Epstein found an ally in Randolph Ross, the principal of Great Neck South, who agreed to have the clickers tested at his school, which has 1,300 students, in 2006. Mr. Ross, who constructs crossword puzzles for a hobby, said that some teachers and students had already been requesting an electronic buzzer system to use for classroom “Jeopardy!” games and quiz bowls. Continue reading

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