New Tech, direction for Blytheville Public Schools

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The Blytheville school district hosted a public meeting Monday evening to announce a new direction for Blytheville Public Schools.

BPS administrators told meeting attendees the district is applying for a conversion charter for Blytheville High School.

Administrators also said the district has been approved to adopt the New Tech Network learning model.

New Tech Network is a non-profit organization that transforms schools into "innovative learning environments" using project-based teaching, according to

BPS Superintendent Richard Atwill said the district can proceed in implementing the New Tech model once the State Board of Education approves the conversion charter request.

"We want to be sure that for any student that walks out of Blytheville High School that they are prepared and ready to either apply to college, go into the Armed Forces or work for a career," said BPS Curriculum Coordinator Sally Cooke.

Cooke and Parental Involvement Facilitator Teryn Spears detailed several components of the New Tech model, such as interdisciplinary courses, course integration, and instructional technology, and practical problem-solving.

"When we talk about real world projects, we're talking about solutions to problems that may exist in our community. We're talking about solutions to problems that may exist globally," said Spears.

School districts in Australia, 18 U.S. states, and 10 Arkansas school districts have adopted the New Tech model.

They include: Arkadelphia, Cross County, Dumas, El Dorado, Highland, Hope, Lincoln, Marked Tree, Riverview, and Van Buren.  Trumann School District will implement the model in 2013.

James Tony Hollis is hopeful that what he heard at the meeting about classrooms where teachers act more as facilitators will help prepare students headed to college or their careers right after school.

"There are those who are left here basically who just want to enter the workforce and I think this is a great way of targeting those students," he said.

The charter application is due October 31. BPS administrators go before the State Board in January.

If the Board approves the charter, New Tech training for teachers and students will begin Fall 2013.

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