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Salem-Keizer Public Schools Instructional Mentor Wins Technology Educator of the Year Award

Whiteaker Middle School Instructional Mentor Matt Hurst was honored as the Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE) 2019 Outstanding Technology Educator of the Year for Computer Education at the Northwest’s largest educational technology conference in Seattle on Feb. 27, 2019.

Hurst was honored for being a strong peer leader and instructional mentor at the middle school level and throughout the district and state. His passion for helping educators and students integrate technology made him an early adopter of touch devices in classrooms. He has assisted app-based technology developers like Remind and Class Dojo by providing professional feedback and piloting their new technology.

Hurst is a Google Certified Innovator, Raspberry Pi certified and a Learnzillion DreamTeam teacher. During the last few years, he has worked with Salem-Keizer’s Career Technical Education programs and Oregon MESA to provide teachers with resources to teach students problem solving skills using maker technology.

“If we believe that the kids we work with in our classrooms every day are our future innovators and problem solvers, then we must provide them with the opportunities, structures and technology to practice innovative problem solving,” said Hurst.

“You give Matt Hurst a vision and he takes it to the next level,” said Whiteaker Principal Julia Dewitt. “He is a great supporter of educational technology and knows that it has to be partnered with quality professional learning. He models that he is a learner by being a role model and pushes himself to be vulnerable and to be always learning.”

According to Gwen Bruey-Fink, SKPS Director of Secondary Curriculum and Instruction, “Matt is always willing to step up and lead by designing professional learning around STEM topics for district employees and in the region, coaching individuals on implementing their own technology goals or providing guidance to district leadership. I so appreciate Matt and his constant, steadfast leadership and reliability in our coaching ranks in Salem-Keizer. Matt is someone I can always turn to for advice, leadership and to gain input from teacher stakeholders.”

Heidi Rogers, NCCE chief executive officer, states that Hurst has been attending NCCE events for several years and usually presents and shares his expertise. “Matt’s contribution to the educational tech profession in the Northwest is immeasurable,” said Rogers. “He finds a way to get big concepts accomplished and brings a positive attitude along with it. It is a pleasure to honor one of our long-standing presenters as the 2019 NCCE Teacher of the Year award recipient.”

The NCCE 2019 Technology Educator award is provided by NCCE, a national educational technology professional development organization and Big Deal Media, publisher of trusted resources for educators.

2019-03-25T12:52:24-08:00March 25th, 2019|

Salem-Keizer Public Schools Launches “Every Day 24J!” to Address Chronic Absenteeism

Buses were rolling this morning carrying almost half of Salem-Keizer Public Schools’ (SKPS) 42,000 students, but with the back-to-school excitement was another message: “Every Day 24J!” Nearly one in three students in SKPS is chronically absent, and this year, schools and community organizations are collaborating to identify barriers to attendance and develop solutions.

The campaign officially launched at Auburn Elementary, where Principal Katie Shumway identified the shift in weather as one of the contributing factors to absenteeism. Auburn is a neighborhood school, and many of its 700 students live within the one-mile radius of the school, meaning they don’t have access school bus transportation. Through the work of the Every Day 24J committee, One Thousand Soles was able to purchase 50 pairs of rain boots at a reduced cost from Wilco. Students who attended the school’s back-to-school picnic received raffle tickets, and winners will be announced at the school on Mondays and Fridays – the days the school has the lowest attendance. Auburn is just one example of the purpose of Every Day 24J! – to identify barriers, create solutions and encourage positive behaviors.

“We believe that all parents want what’s best for their kids and that’s why we continue to look for ways to build relationships with families and strengthen community partnerships,” said Shumway. “We strive meet families where they’re at and provide the tools and resources necessary to get kids here and learning at Auburn every day. When we begin to see dips in student attendance, our community school outreach coordinator works to find out why and then identifies those resources that can create solutions.”

Additional community organizations have come forward to help provide rain gear for more students.

“We know that September is the most critical month for setting a student’s attendance pattern,” said Superintendent Christy Perry. “What happens during that first month sets the tone for the entire year, and we know there’s a direct correlation between attendance and graduation. We see chronic absenteeism from students across all spectrums – cultural norms and socioeconomic statuses play roles, but we also see students who are performing really well at school who might not see the connection between attendance and employability after graduation. We must all use our sphere of influence to make those connections for our children – their futures depend on it.”

Students who miss just two days of school a month will miss a month of school each year. If a student continues that pattern through elementary and middle school, he or she will have lost an entire year of instruction by ninth grade. According to the Oregon Department of Education, students who attend school regularly are 172 percent more likely to graduate.

South Salem High Senior Kudzai Kapurura shared her perspective as a student: “In high school, you’re an independent, so it’s no longer really your parents telling you to go to school – it’s more of a personal decision. Some students don’t want to go because they don’t feel like they’re included in the community at their school. I think more than it’s credited, that’s a big part of why attendance drops in high school. When students don’t feel included, their grades start to drop. That combination makes people not want to go.”

The Every Day 24J committee comprised of district staff and community members will continue to meet throughout the year to identify benchmarks for success and develop additional solutions to remove barriers for attendance. Through a grant from Kaiser Permanente, the Salem/Keizer Coalition for Equality is simultaneously developing attendance supports for families in the North Salem High feeder system. For more information on how to support the campaign, please contact Community Relations and Communications at (503) 399-3038 or by emailing info@salkeiz.k12.or.us.

2018-09-19T15:10:32-08:00September 5th, 2018|