This year, SMART Technologies surveyed more than 1,000 teachers from across the country. The teachers’ biggest concern? The mental health of their students.
This echoes research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which found that the incidence of depression and anxiety symptoms in children and adolescents doubled during COVID-19, compared with pre-pandemic estimates.
But, teachers have been determined to foster strong connections with their students using innovative methodologies that allow for more classroom interaction. And one local school’s efforts have received international attention and recognition.
At the end of October, SMART Technologies sent a professional film and photography team to Parcells Middle School to create case study content for its international library, open to teachers and administrators from around the world, featuring not only stories but lessons and resources. They spent time with Alexis Lecznar, a social studies teacher and district technology coach, who was selected because, as the district’s Director of Instructional Technology Chris Stanley noted, “Alexis is not only an innovative educator, but focuses her instruction around student voice and experience.
“I do not think that there has ever been a time that I have walked by her classroom and didn’t hear joyful noise,” he continued. “Collaboration is key in student learning, and learning requires talking and grappling with new material, which is something the students always do in Alexis’s classes.”
However, innovative instruction is not unique to Lecznar’s classes at Parcells. It’s a commitment and cornerstone of the entire Grosse Pointe Public School System.
“All of our schools are SMART schools and we’ve made a concentrated effort to ensure our teachers have the tools and training they need to connect with students in their classrooms,” Stanley said.
It’s because of this commitment to strengthening connections between students and educators, in addition to the school’s demonstrated innovation in learning and technology, that SMART selected Parcells not only for its international Lumio library’s “Connections that Matter” program, but also inducted Parcells into its 2021-22 cohort of Exemplary Schools, a global network of educational institutions advancing learning through professional development, collaboration with peers and technology.
“Our promise as a company is to help enable and to celebrate ‘Connections that Matter’ and we have seen the most incredible stories of creativity and determination of educators over the last 18 months,” said CEO Nicholas Svensson. “This gives us the opportunity to recognize the outstanding educators and schools and showcase their commitment to their students, their communities and their profession.”
Schools selected to the Exemplary Schools program participate in unique professional development and peer-learning communities and receive early access to SMART products. Parcells also will open-source lesson plans and learning activities that strengthen connections among peers, between educators and students and between families and the classroom.
“We know our teachers are ‘SMART,’ but it is always an honor when an outside organization recognizes our dedicated staff,” GPPSS Superintendent M. Jon Dean said. “I thank our teachers for not only being innovative in their instruction, but also in how they connect and engage students in the classroom. Parcells being named a SMART Exemplary School is an opportunity to not only provide the very best for our students, but to lead by example across the country and globe.”