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Tamaqua SD looks to improve learning experience, student attendance

Published June 22. 2019 06:56AM

The Tamaqua Area School District recently applied for, and is likely to receive, funding via the Burton D. Morgan Foundation for a significant technology upgrade. The grant could help enhance and reshape the curriculum, as well as the devices and technology that students and faculty use.

Students in grades 3, 6 and 9 might be new users of Google Chromebooks as early as next school year. Hypothetically, after three years, according to Superintendent Ray Kinder, students in grades 3-12 would have the Chromebooks at their fingertips.

“We’re looking to find ways to make learning more personalized and customized for students,” Kinder said.

“We really identified two areas specifically, in which we want to try to help our students. One is their academic achievement and their access to resources, and the other being student motivation to attend school. We believe that students who attend school tend to do very well in school, and those who don’t seem to struggle.”

Kinder said the district would also look to add a technology integration specialist, which would be covered by the grant for three years.

He explained that the first half of the school year would be professional development with the staff, and the devices could roll out in the second semester.

“We have some programs we would be able to use, and some would have to turn over to be utilized more online. We’re also looking at finding ways for our kids that are in Tamaqua, to be able to see things outside of Tamaqua. Whether it’s information, experiences or after-school hours, these are all things that we’re looking to provide the students that we can’t necessarily provide to them right now.”

The second part of the proposal is an initiative to improve student motivation.

Kinder said the district is considering adding gaming as a part of the curriculum and potential activities. Students would have a chance to learn about coding and many other aspects of a competitive tech industry that is rapidly growing.

“Gaming has changed dramatically from what we grew up with,” Kinder said.

“The opportunity for us to revamp some of the rooms in each of our buildings to create gaming spaces, and look at trying to find ways to have kids incorporate things like the decision making, cooperation and the coding that goes along with some of these types of things is the direction we’re heading.

“This other grant would give us an opportunity to update at a very high level, a couple of areas in our building that we have designated, and provide appeal to a significant portion of our population.”

In fact, according to Scholarships.com, there are more than 30 U.S. colleges that now offer scholarships for gamers, which is also known as “Esports” when played competitively. That number is sure to rise.

“Student attendance and motivation to come to school increases, and again we believe if we can get students to come to school, we can definitely make differences in their lives and increase their level of achievement,” Kinder said.

Other business

Dan Schoener was nominated treasurer for a one-year term. Connie Ligenza was nominated as secretary for four years.

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