First Lady, First Focus

Published 10:29 am Wednesday, February 11, 2009

SOUTH POINT — It is all a part of being an example for the rest of the state. That’s one of the reasons Ohio First Lady Frances Strickland came to area and she believes she found what she was looking for in the schools of the South Point district.

“Ted had seven principles he built his educational reform plan around and one was to find a good school and use it as a model. That’s what this school is,” Strickland said as she was given a two-hour tour of the new South Point middle and high schools Tuesday morning.

Among the technological innovations Strickland pointed out were the extensive use of computers in the classroom and the Smart Boards, high tech, interactive white boards.

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“One of the challenges in education is keeping up with the fast-paced technological world,” she said. “People think this kind of thing goes only in Upper Arlington. In South Point they have got these programs.”

That fact could make it an easier sell for more rural districts considering significant upgrades, she said.

Strickland came at the invitation of Assistant Superintendent Sandy Mers, who had met the First Lady at a recent women’s leadership conference that focused on career pathways and 21st Century skills. Since those are also concerns of the school district Mers thought Strickland’s visit a good match.

The tour began with a stop in the sixth grade writing class of Martha Lowe, where Strickland got to try out the Smart Board herself. That was followed by the eighth grade social studies of Sarah Nuckols where Strickland watched a student-made video.

“This is a way to liven up socials studies a bit,” Lowe told Strickland. “They get the information, but hopefully there’s more fun in doing it.”

South Point schools wants to get students more prepared for their life after secondary schools, offering them classes for college credit and getting first hand experience in the career of their choice. That way they are prepared for college, the military or a career.

“Hopefully they are networking,” John Maynard, South Point High principal, said.

It is all a part of developing 21st Century Skills that include critical thinking and digital literature. To do this the district revamped existing curriculum to incorporate these skills.

“It is living in the age of technology,” Superintendent Ken Cook said.