An Email from Robin Sneed, New Tech Director, to BHS faculty and students:
I wanted to take a moment this afternoon to thank everyone for a wonderful two days! As many of you know, BHS New Tech hosted a "New Tech Teacher Residency" for a school from Covington, Virginia, which next year will be called Alleghany New Tech. Next year will be their first year as a New Tech school, and visiting other schools to learn from them is part of the New Tech process.
The superintendent from Alleghany said, "Over the past three years, we have visited a number of New Tech schools. None have impressed me the way this school has. We are so glad we did our residency at Blytheville High School. We learned so much from your students and staff. Thank you."
One teacher, on her way out the door at around 4:30 PM today, after two long days of learning, said, "I just had to tell someone: Whenever I encountered a student, whether in a classroom or in the hallway, 100% of your student body spoke, made eye contact, and smiled. They all appeared to be so happy here. I honestly don't think I have ever met a more polite group of young people."
When debriefing classroom tours, they were impressed with the following things (Summarized from 4 different posters that the 4 groups created separately and the comments they shared aloud in the debrief):
- In every classroom they visited, students were collaborating with each other. They were respectful.
- Positive and effective relationships: teachers to students, students to students, and teachers to teachers.
- "They KNOW their school & New Tech."
- Relaxed atmospheres
- Students were focused.
- WiFi in the Courtyard
- Students were on task
- High level of safety
- Hallways were clear / lack of "hall traffic"
- Agency visibly defined
- Students were able to discuss their projects, how they were to be graded, and what their current tasks were.
- Students were respectful to our visitors. (One lady was particularly surprised, when she shared out, that every student she spoke to addressed her with "Yes, ma'am," or "No, ma'am," even though they didn't know her "from Adam.")
- They noticed teamwork; students working together to solve problems.
- They loved the inspirational wall murals, and the variety of college banners in the hallways.
- "Ergo" badges
- Motivational reminders EVERYWHERE
- Tables and chairs in classrooms, instead of desks in rows
- Students have the opportunity to take 10 AP classes.
- Students who were presenting were rehearsed and taking turns speaking.
- Students gave each other feedback / Peer review
- Students were respectful of their group members and their peers.
- They loved the Technology Component (ECHO, 1 to 1 computers, students using Google Docs, etc)
- Each classroom had a "Welcoming and Engaged Behavior"
- They were impressed with our "Work It Off" program.
- They were impressed with students' willingness to present and to communicate, even with adult visitors in the room.
- They were impressed with the Student Ambassadors who lead their tours, and with the student and teacher panels.
- THE FOOD!!! - Ms. Byrd's students, once again, made all of the participants very happy, and made us very proud!
Mr. Isbell sat next to me during much of the two day event to help answer questions, and to help with technology issues, etc. More than one time, when our visitors were talking about you - Our Students - I looked over at him and said, "I'm going to cry." I'm sure that he will testify that I had tears in my eyes, and I could see the pride on his face as well.
BHS New Tech students never cease to amaze me, and I want to thank you!
After spending time at our school, one thing that they identified as something that they want to work on is their school culture / atmosphere: They want their students to be "confident, cheerful, and respectful" like BHS students."
Our visitors asked me "Why New Tech?" I had a longer response than this, but one thing I said was, "Because BHS students -- MY students -- deserve everything that the New Tech Network Design Pillars encompasses: They deserve teaching that engages, technology that enables, learning outcomes that matter, and a culture that empowers them to be agents of their own learning and to think critically."
I am so proud of you!!!
Special shout-out to ...
- The students and teachers who let me ask them questions on camera without any notice! You were amazing!
- The BHS New Tech Student Ambassadors ... Words cannot express how much I appreciate everything you do! Thank you for leading the tours, participating in the student panels and/or giving our visitors feedback on their presentations.
- The students and teachers who allowed us to visit your classrooms.
- Ms. Byrd and her classes! Great food makes people happy!
- All ofthe teachers who participated in the teacher panel, who modeled critical friends, and who critiqued our visitors' presentations.
- Ms. Irene - You always take such good care of us!
- Mr. Isbell, Mr. Jenkins, and Alexis Blocker - Thanks for dropping everything and helping our visitors with their tech issues.
- Ms. Reed Ashley - Thank you for the last minute copies!
- Ms. Karen Ashley - Thank you for providing us with a warm and inviting learning environment.
- Mr. Ashley, Ms. DeFord, Ms. White, Ms. Siegler, and Mr. Wallace - Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedules to participate in the learning.
- Our counseling department - Thank you for being gracious hosts to the Alleghany counselor. She spoke very highly of you all!
- But most importantly, thank you to EVERY SINGLE STUDENT who encountered one of our visitors. They were watching you in the hallway and noticed you smile at them. They were watching you in the classrooms and noticed you working. They were watching you with your peers and noticed that you were respectful. You were truly upholding our BHS PBIS Objectives: Be Respectful, Be Responsible, and Be Academically Engaged. And, you were truly modeling the New Tech Ideal Culture of Trust, Respect, and Responsibility! Of everything that they saw and learned here, they will remember YOU -- Our Students -- the most!
I'm so sorry for the long email. I just can't express my gratitude enough, and I can't express how truly proud I am to call BHS New Tech my home!