February 17, 2013

State superintendent pays visit to Am-Po

Jessica Lane, Staff Writer,
The Express-Star

AMBER — Oklahoma State Schools Superintendent, Janet Barresi, visited Amber-Pocasset Schools to have a round table discussion with superintendents, principals, administrators and personnel from around Grady County.

Student representatives from FCCLA, TSA and FFA came to ask Barresi questions. Each student holds or is running for a state office for their organization. Madison Pfeifley is running for state TSA president, Lydia Blaine is running for state FFA reporter, Dalton Chaney is rung for TSA state secretary or reporter and Stetson Clawson is running for southwest regional vice president.

The student representatives and Barresi exchanged questions and answers. Barresi thanked them for their participation.

"Thank you so much for your commitment to your organization and to yourself," she said.

Barresi said as a student she was involved in student council, president of Pep Club and participated in her school's drama group.

Chaney asked Barresi what advice she had as a leader. Barresi said that she learned a lot from going to different places and learning from individuals.

"Learn and then continue to learn."

Rural schools, technology and math were some of the topics that school administrators discussed with Barresi.

Barresi said she has spent about 80 percent of her time visiting rural areas and saw evidence of the schools' issues with size and availability of services.

Some administrators expressed concern that virtual education was being abused, and that money was going to vendors instead of to districts.

Barresi said she supports all forms of education choice, but is also a proponent of quality education. She suggested that accountability for online schools could be based off of course completion.

There will always be some kind of full-time online learning population, Barresi said. In the future, Barresi said the state board is looking at developing an online virtual network. Online instruction shouldn't be used for students in credit recovery, she said.

Math has a big impact on a student's decision to go to college, one teacher noted, with some opting not to go to college because they are not confident they could complete the math coursework.

Barresi responded that while teachers care about teaching math, they may not have been taught how to teach math. A less worksheet, and more hands-on approach needs to be developed, Barresi said. Writing, even in math, also needs to be developed.