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Eminence schools receive PEAK Award

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By Brad Bowman

Eminence Independent School Superintendent Buddy Berry considers receiving the PEAK award a validation of hard work and just the beginning of the district’s results.

The Kentucky School Board Association presented Eminence Independent Schools with the Public Education Achieves in Kentucky Award. The implementation of the district’s initiative for engaging students in learning through the Framework of Innovation for Reinventing Education model has helped retain students with new opportunities.

“We are at a year to a year and a half ahead of where I thought we would be,” Berry said. “Receiving the award is a huge validation of the hard work of our board and our students.”

Berry and the EIS board have put technology to use in the classroom by giving students laptops and focusing the school schedule in a more college fashion. Students attend their core classes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Elementary, middle and high school students not attending AP classes at Bellarmine focus on strengthening their education through one on one interventions and enrichment teaching sessions on Tuesdays and Thursdays — shrinking class size for a more intimate learning environment.

 The enrollment numbers at EIS have risen to include 130 new students reaching a historic high of 700 students for the school, Berry said.

“I hope it provides a spark of encouragement to folks working hard in the district,” Berry said. “Kids are being challenged, their learning experience is more personal, and they are being pushed to another level everyday. We are asking kids to live in two worlds as a full-time college and a full time high school student. The students learn how to manage their time on a college campus and then come back to a high school as a honor student.”

Berry emphasized that the model isn’t just about a next generation learning, the use of technology to develop innovative learning models and personalized education, but a model of mastery.

“Of course, we are just getting started,” Berry said. “We are getting students to master their standard core classes and succeeding at high levels. We are using the technology to get to that level but it is just a tool.”

Berry said the district still has work to do and will not rest on its laurels. The district challenges the students and the teachers.

“Students are becoming better than before. No matter how efficient we get we can’t replicate the college level experience they receive at Bellarmine and they are doing that,” Berry said. “We are asking our teachers to teach differently by personalizing learning to the student. That is the goal at the national level.”
KSBA Executive Director Bill Scott, KSBA President Tom Blankenship and David Baird Associate Executive Director presented EIS with the award and attended classes to witness the school’s new learning models in action.

“We did a Skype session with the Bellarmine students and put them on a big screen. We showed them an elementary math class and Jennifer Montgomery’s English class,” Berry said. “It’s just such a big honor and as a result our students will be doing a presentation of the School On Fire at KSBA convention in February. My daughter, Instructional Supervisor Thom Coffee and I will speak at the National School Board Association Conference in April at San Diego.”

The Kentucky School Board Association award recognizes public school efforts for enriching students’ learning skills. The association accepts nominations from school districts and gives an award to a district during the fall and spring.

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