Jamie Milhorn and Keisha Scott

Unique initiatives on display during a “Look into our Schools”


To see full videos of the presentations, please scroll down to the bottom

Johnson City Schools, in a joint effort with Title I and the PTA, hosted “A Look into our Schools”, which allowed the community to hear presentations from eight of eleven Johnson City Schools about unique and engaging teaching tools that they use in their classrooms.

“It’s a wonderful way to showcase some of the new initiatives that are in our schools,” Johnson City Schools Director of Accountability and School Improvement Dr. Robbie Anderson said. “We are always striving to be better and do better, so each year we bring to the public our new and unique initiatives from each of our schools.”

Topper Tech Team

The Topper Tech Team was formed leading up to the deployment of over 2,200 Chrome Books at Science Hill High School. The group helps to fix and troubleshoot any problems that are happening with technology in the school.

“These students have done incredible work for us,” Science Hill Principal Todd Barnett said. “They’re a fantastic group that is highly motivated and very talented. I can’t say enough of what they mean to our students and our teachers.”

Science Hill senior and Topper Tech Team member Braxton Westbrook said that they often get more requests from teachers than students, but no matter the request, they do their best to fix the problem.

“It’s really been a positive, morale-boosting experience to get to help students and teachers with technical problems,” Westbrook said. “We answer all of the questions that we can and if we don’t know, we can learn about it or we pass it on to the Science Hill IT staff.”

Virtual Reality with Nearpod

Next week students at Cherokee Elementary will be taking a trip to Antarctica, sort of.

Students won’t be able to feel the frigid temperatures, but thanks to Nearpod Virtual Reality headsets, they will get an immersive experience that allows them to visit places they may not otherwise be able to see.

“It’s transformational,” Cherokee third grade teacher Jenny Reed said about the virtual reality experience. “Students’ ideas grow; their thoughts about life and the world around them grow. It really just opens their world to so many new experiences.”

Reed said that students are able to get a better perspective of the world and they have taken virtual trips to the North Pole, South Pole, rain forest and different countries including China and Japan.

“This allows them to make connections to their learning. If they see it and experience it, then they can relate it to what they are reading or learning about,” Reed said.

Technology in Kindergarten and 1st grade

South Side kindergarten teacher Jamie Milhorn and first-grade teacher Keisha Scott talked about the different technology they use in their classrooms. From iPads to Apps, they said that even some of their youngest students are becoming tech savvy.

But that doesn’t mean that young students are constantly sitting glued to their tablets.

“We don’t want a lot of consumption or screen time, but they use the devices as a tool to showcase their learning,” Milhorn said.

It also doesn’t mean that students don’t still need paper and pencil.

“In Kindergarten, we do need paper and pencil and we never want to abandon that,” Milhorn said. “So we give them those tools and we combine that with the iPads and what they can produce is pretty amazing.”

Multi-Media Club at Lake Ridge

Lake Ridge Elementary started the Multi-Media Club that helps with numerous media tasks inside the school, including taking pictures and helping with the yearbook.

“It’s been a phenomenal experience and has really opened my eyes to what students can do,” Lake Ridge third-grade math and science teacher Jamie Wampler said. “Their knowledge of technology is more vast than I imagined. They also don’t have the inhibitions that grown-ups have; they aren’t scared to jump right in.”

The group was formed with the hope of providing students with another outlet instead of some of the traditional extra-curricular activities.

Restorative Circle

This year Indian Trail Intermediate School started a new initiative called restorative circles to help students develop relationships, build communities, and respond to conflicts and problems that arise.

The restorative circles are a practical forum for the resolution of underlying feelings.

The group said that 80 percent of the circles are proactive and focus on relationship building to help improve the school climate. The other 20 percent of the circles are reactive circles. The circles are helping to transform the culture at the school as discipline referrals are down 17 percent.

“The circle helps students feel connected to others and it is a place where students feel safe to discuss issues with their teachers and peers,” Indian Trail teacher Robyn Ivester said. “It’s helped to transform the culture in our school.”

Other presentations included a section about trauma-informed practices that are used at Liberty Bell. Trauma Informed practices can help students build coping skills and self-efficacy— which are helpful whether they’ve experienced trauma or not.

Fairmont Physical Education teacher Derek Murphy spoke about initiatives he has started to help spread school-wide wellness, including a week where he invites all parents to participate in their child’s physical education class.

North Side physical education teacher Nancy McDonald and first-grade teacher Yolanda Miller talked about their approach with the Ron Clark Initiative #propel2greatness, which allows students to foster relationships that bridge grade levels and build morale throughout the entire school.



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