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LCPS educators among first Rethink Education grads

Seven LCPS educators whose work helps ensure the quality of the district’s standard-setting digital learning initiative have earned their Rethink Education Facilitator Badge from the N.C. Department of Instruction as members of the initial cohort trained to become experts in how to use new statewide blended learning models that add online learning to existing classroom teaching.

Six young women holding certificates pose with man in a dark suit.Recently recognized for their achievement by LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams and the Lenoir County Board of Education were Melissa Lynch, the district’s digital learning instructional coordinator, and school-based digital learning specialists Angeli Jarman of Southwood Elementary, Catherine Lynch of Moss Hill Elementary, Elizabeth Moon of Lenoir County Learning Academy, Suzanna Moye of South Lenoir High, Kristin Stroud of La Grange Elementary and Jodi Stocks Peele of Pink Hill Elementary.

They and others in that inaugural cohort of 293 educators will now serve as facilitators who help prepare teachers across the state to deliver high-quality blended instruction in a variety of settings and situations, according to NCDPI.

“Educators who are trained in the statewide blended learning model are equipped to meet the needs of all learners by facilitating differentiation in the classroom, supporting student engagement and increasing student ownership over their learning,” said Melissa Davis, director of the Virtual Instruction Support Services Division at NCDPI. “This dedicated group of educators is leading the way to ensure our schools are prepared to focus on what matters most: supporting the success of NC students regardless of where learning occurs.”

With support from a federal grant, Rethink Education is partnering with districts and schools across the state to prepare for any short- or long-term learning disruptions by developing plans tailored to the specific needs of their school communities. These partnerships are focused on improving blended learning, which combines face-to-face and online instruction, access and content for students in grades K-8.

“The blended learning models provide a structure for teachers to utilize to ensure content and technology are working together and allowing for the most learner-centered environment possible,” Melissa Lynch said. Lynch leads the group of 17 digital learning specialists, who work with teachers in their assigned schools to maximize the use of digital devices and related technology.

LCPS is in the eighth year of its digital learning initiative, which has put iPads in the hands of all K-12 students and provided iPads and MacBooks for all teachers. The district’s experience with those devices and the apps that turn them into instructional tools helped it make a quick transition to remote learning when the coronavirus pandemic shut down classrooms in March 2020. However, the pandemic also exposed the shortcomings of teaching in a purely digital environment, especially in rural counties like Lenoir, where internet access can be spotty.

 “The Rethink Education Program is here to help districts and schools think about what building capacity for blended instruction looks like in their community,” Davis said. “Because we live in a highly digital society, we must meet students on their turf.”

Sixty-five school districts, 33 charter schools, and one lab school are part of the Rethink Education initiative. Another group of LCPS educators is already training in the second cohort of the Rethink program.

Photo caption:

With LCPS Superintendent Brent Williams during recognition at the May 2 meeting of the Lenoir County Board of Education are newly minted Rethink Education facilitators, from left, district Digital Learning Instructional Coordinator Melissa Lynch and school-based digital learning specialists Jodi Stocks Peele of Pink Hill Elementary, Elizabeth Moon of Lenoir County Learning Academy, Suzanna Moye of South Lenoir High, Kristin Stroud of La Grange Elementary and Catherine Lynch of Moss Hill Elementary. Not pictured is Angeli Jarman, digital learning specialist at Southwood Elementary.