Editor’s Note: Following is the first installment in a series of digital learning commentaries by Stephenville ISD superintendent Matt Underwood as the district approaches the first anniversary of its iChampion initiative.
Special to The Flash
By Matt Underwood
STEPHENVILLE (September 19, 2016) — We’re closing in on the first anniversary of iChampion. It’s not exactly a stretch to describe this achievement as unbelievable. Redefining the teaching and learning process to better suit tomorrow’s world is a daunting task on its own; developing and budgeting for the infrastructure, means, and devices without increasing community costs is adding an entirely different layer of complexity. But, folks, we did it. Thanks to community support, we cleared the hurdle of affordability by way of reallocating funds via the TRE, which in turn, proved to be the catalyst to thrust the iChampion dream into a reality.
With a sustainable funding plan in place for every child in six of the thirteen grades to receive a device, transforming the teaching and learning culture has become our prioritized focus.
Today’s learner truly thinks differently. As a society, we expect to learn by accessing information as needed, often through visual and social outlets, relying on feedback to then tweak the product. This iterative process is challenge for the traditional school system. Historically, teachers have be the central source for information within their classroom. This has allowed for a level of control and comfort as the content expert. Moving to a student-centered and flexible learning environment creates an atmosphere of experimentation. And, with experimentation, comes the possibility of failure. This is where our teachers struggle. By nature, we do not like to fail. Maintaining a healthy balance of excellence and innovation is a challenge.
Defining iChampion is not an easy task due to the numerous complexities and challenges that are redefining public education present. However, an explanation of the focus of our movement is needed. iChampion is a movement to redefine the educational environment, outcomes and expectations for children in Erath County.
I know that the concept of helping move the educational needle for all students in and around Erath County is traditionally not the responsibility of the public school system within the Stephenville ISD; however we will all benefit economically, financially and socially when we work together for the benefit of our kids. If you attend Dublin ISD, Huston Academy or Home School your children, we need to work together to ensure a brighter future for the communities in and around Erath County. We need to discover the iChampion in us all!