By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (July 26, 2016) — It’s a big week for Stephenville ISD and its iChampion initiative, and if it all goes according to plan, a huge week for education across the Cross Timbers region and beyond.
Stephenville is hosting an iChampion Summit Tuesday and Wednesday at Henderson Junior High, with visitors coming from each school district in Erath County and many more from across the region.
Everyone wants to discuss the technology initiative that includes a 1:1 electronic learning device – in this case an iPad – to student ratio, currently in grades 3-6 with grades 7-8 scheduled for implementation in January and grades 9-12 to follow in the fall of 2017.
The iChampion rollout began with third and fourth graders at Hook Elementary School and has since spread to fifth and sixth graders at Gilbert Intermediate School.
Now, many of the teachers directly involved in the program will have the opportunity to share their experiences and ideas with others.
“At the end of the day what really matters here are that teachers are learning from other teachers. There’s nothing in education more powerful than that,” explained Stephenville ISD superintendent Matt Underwood. “These people walk in each other’s shoes every day and juggle all the same balls, but are still willing and able learn and add on new possibilities for the kids they serve.”
There are 30 presenters from across Texas including 10 from SISD. Underwood said 265 educators are registered to attend the event.
“It’s a great idea, and we have a great partnership with Fried Ed Technology, which has already done presentations like this throughout the (D/FW) Metroplex,” Underwood said. “We just thought, why can’t we do something that better serves the educators and the kids in Erath County and surrounding region? So we took their (Fried Ed) concept and brought it out here where rural schools can participate.”
As a superintendent, Underwood is proud to see SISD faculty stepping up as presenters, including some who are not yet directly involved in the iChampion initiative.
Folks such as earth science teacher Steven Rains, who Underwood says, “is doing some amazing, out of the box type things with the Learning Management System before even getting started with iChampion at the high school.”
There are others who draw similar reviews from Underwood, some already involved in iChampion, others simply taking the lead in involving technology in their classroom curriculum before iPads even arrive on their campus.
Hook Elementary School teacher of the year Amber Lemons was at the heart of the iChampion initiative at the campus where it all began. Lemons is moving to a new role as instructional technologist for the 2016-17 school year.
“Mrs. Lemons is one of many teachers we have who are just doing an outstanding job with this, and we can’t wait to have her share what she’s learned throughout the process with other educators,” Underwood said.
The summit will feature 50 minute sessions, or as Underwood said, “the sessions are as long as we would expect a student to sit through a class.” Then the teachers can select what subject and who they want to hear next and move on to the next session.
There will be three morning sessions before lunch is served, followed by afternoon sessions until approximately 3:30 p.m.
“This is a great opportunity for our district and for people to see what we have achieved with iChampion and technology in learning in Stephenville,” said Underwood. “But it’s bigger than that. This is a great opportunity for teachers and educators throughout our region of the state to learn how to better serve and educate their kids.”