Rock Hill schools superintendent lobbies Congress Monday

dworthington@heraldonline.comJune 9, 2013 

A snowball fight cost Lynn Moody her first trip to Washington, D.C. The future Rock Hill Superintendent of Schools was a high school student in Ruffin, N.C.. The school’s principal said the snowball fight showed the students immaturity and he cancelled the annual trip to the Nation’s Capital.

Moody’s two sons were with her on her last trip to Washington. They toured the sites on a Segway. Their tour came to a halt when they passed the Newseum and its display of daily newspapers. Moody’s picture on the front page of The Herald was one of the newspapers selected for display that day. “It wasn’t even a good picture of me,” Moody said.

“I wish all students could see Washington, D.C. early in life and regularly and routinely thereafter,” she said. “There is something for everyone. History surrounds you, but it’s more than history. There is hope, a sense of the future.”

Today Moody will be talking about the future of education before a Congressional panel. She is one of five speakers representing the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education -- which is paying for her trip.

She has five minutes to tell panel about the Teacher Quality Partnerships, a federal grant program that is reforming how college students learn to be teachers.

Teacher quality, Moody said, is the most important factor in raising student achievement.

The federal program has an authorized funding of $300 million. In the current budget the spending is $43 million. Programs in 22 states have received grants, including Winthrop University.

Winthrop created its NetSCOPE, short for Network of Sustained, Collaborative, Ongoing Preparation for Educators, with a $7.5 million grant. It also got a $3.75 million grant for a school leadership program called NetLEAD.

School districts in York, Chester, Lancaster and six other counties, are partners in the Winthrop programs.

The grants have helped Winthrop revise its education curriculum. Students interested in teaching get classroom experience in the first year of study, not in their final year. Student teaching is now a year-long internship, giving them the experience of opening and closing a school year.

“You can’t learn to be a teacher,” Moody said. There needs to lots of opportunity to practice, experience and develop the craft.

The partnership means Rock Hill schools can expose future teachers to their methods and hopefully hire them when they graduate. “We get the cream of the crop,” Moody said.

One of the goals of the partnership is to improve academic performance from kindergarten through high school. The partnership has helped Rock Hill school improve scores on math and reading end-of-course exams by 30 percent, she said.

The discussions come a critical time in education. Moody said the way students learn in high school will be vastly different in just five years.

In five years, Rock Hill school will be entering their second generation of iRock, the district’s digital learning initiative. The expected life of a district-issued iPad to students is three years.

The conversations follow President Obama’s remarks last week in Mooresville, N.C. about the importance of technology and trained teachers in the classroom. He promised that U.S. schools will have access to high-speed Internet or Wi-Fi.

Rock Hill schools area already connected as part of its iRock initiative.

Nonetheless, Moody said the president’s message gives Rock Hill some national bragging rights, that Rock Hill teachers are using some of the best practices in their classrooms. “That’s something we take for granted.”

The result, Moody said, is she will speak with confidence and not nervousness. “I know the topic and it’s important.”

Don Worthington •  803-329-4066 •  dworthington@heraldonline.com

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