The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

October 9, 2010

DHS leaders present format

Duo details New Tech to Northern Iowa

DANVILLE — Danville High School will get top billing today as New Tech leaders present details of their new educational delivery system to a group of educators at the University of Northern Iowa.

New Tech Director and DHS Assistant Principal Darin Chambliss and New Tech-certified trainer and DHS teacher Jacob Bretz will make the presentation, traveling to Cedar Falls during this weekend for a statewide educational summit.

“It’s kind of a good feeling that they asked us and just a real good opportunity for us,” Chambliss said.

According to Lyn Countryman, interim director of the university’s on-campus Malcolm Price Laboratory School, the university is using the event to hear presentations from several alternative school programs as it moves toward its goal of becoming a “research, development, demonstration and dissemination” school.

“We are in the process of transitioning from a lab school,” she said in an invitation to Danville school officials. “To this end we are trying to gather important ingredients from excellent models.”

Chambliss said he and Bretz were scheduled to make four total presentations Friday in breakout sessions alongside three other programs being implemented at other schools. Presentations were made before a panel of 200 state and university educators.

“We’re going to be presenting to university staff and their board of trustees,” he said. “They’re basically going to be choosing between us and three other schools.”

Countryman said University of Northern Iowa educators will be examining issues including innovative teaching practices, how research is done, the role of new curriculum and innovative practices, and the role of faculty.

New Tech, part of a national network of 62 schools, made Danville a “demonstration school” following the summer training of Bretz and teacher-leader Abbie Carter — now both certified to train other teachers.

The New Tech system is student-led and project oriented, with students charged with finding relevance in their information as they apply it to common problems. Students or teachers can draw on the New Tech network for project ideas and continued guidance.

Danville’s 2-year-old program will have its first outside educators’ tour Oct. 20, with a group from a school in Michigan spending the day immersed in New Tech. Chambliss said there are plans to add more tours and offer a county-wide in-service program for interested teachers.

He said the outside networking is positive for teachers here as they draw from outside sources — and presentations such as Friday’s put DHS in a good light and could lead to connections elsewhere.

For the Iowa summit, New Tech leaders have been working on a Powerpoint presentation and will include classroom video.

“We’re pleased we’ve been given the opportunity,” he said. “We’re just going to tell them what we’ve seen.”

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