Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label teachers. Show all posts

Friday, May 17, 2024

WHS senior places third in Maine App Challenge

By Kaysa Jalbert

Creativity was on full display in this year’s Maine App Challenge as a Windham High School senior, Alex Pooler, placed third among participants, winning a $1,000 scholarship from Tyler Technologies.

Matt Jones, software engineering manager for Tyler
Technologies, left, and Chris Webster, president of
Tyler Technologies' ERP & Civic Division, right, 
congratulate Alex Pooler of Windham High School
for placing third in the annual Maine App Challenge
for students. Pooler earned a check for $1,000 for his
app called Good Morning Class, an interactive
check-in app for elementary teachers and students.
Pooler designed an app that makes it quick and easy for educators to assess a student’s well-being. He created the app called Good Morning Class, an interactive check-in app for elementary school teachers and students.

He says that he started working on his app idea in fall of 2022. One day at the start of his junior year, he was talking with a primary school teacher, Mrs. Farrin, who thought it would be a good idea to design an app to make it easier for teachers to check-in on their students.

"Last year I developed Good Morning Class using MIT App Inventor, a block-based coding program,” said Pooler. He first developed a prototype for the app and then tested it with the help of Mrs. Farrin. After testing, he revised the app to better fit her classes.

“This year, I developed version two in Python, a coding language, and Kivy, a graphical framework. This was a major improvement and difficulty, as I was still learning both languages,” says Pooler.

Mrs. Farrin would use a Google survey to check in with her students. Although it is a survey program, its design is not specific to an elementary classroom, leaving room for user error and confusion.

Pooler said that he wanted to make life a little easier for teachers and students through his creation and thought it would be a nice project for his high school Capstone.

Jennifer Pooler, Alex’s mother said her son has always been creative.

“Alex has been making games since he was very young, board games, card games, which eventually led to his interest in making video games,” she said. “I don't think Alex thought too much about developing apps until Mrs. Farrin suggested he explore that for his Capstone project, but it aligned well with his interests.”

Prior to working on his Good Morning Class app, Pooler says he had never developed an app before.

“In my sophomore year I took a computer science class, but most of what I learned was on the fly,” said Pooler. “In between last year’s submission and this year’s, I took an online computer science class.”

After high school, Pooler will be studying Game Design and Development at Rochester Institute of Technology.

“I can't wait to hear about and hopefully see the projects Alex works on at RIT and after,” Jennifer Pooler said. “My hope is that he'll build a solid foundation at college to be successful in developing video games or apps or whatever he decides to create.”

In addition to the scholarships, the top 10 finalists of the Maine App Challenge also received Beats Headphones and are granted a guaranteed internship interview at Tyler Technologies.

“I was very excited for Alex to win third place in the Maine App Challenge,” Jennifer Pooler said. “I was already so proud of him for putting in months of work to see it through, but I have to say it was really special to see him recognized by Tyler Technologies for all of the effort.”

The Maine App Challenge is a contest hosted annually by Tyler Technologies Inc., a Plano, Texas-based provider of software and technology services with around 1,200 employees in Maine. Each year, students develop their own mobile software programs that introduce them to science, technology, engineering, and math, also known by the acronym STEM.

Prior to the contest, Tyler Technologies collaborates with the Foster Center for Innovation at the University of Maine to host a series of free workshops for students to help with brainstorming, prototyping, and testing their applications. According to its website, Tyler Technologies also partners with the University of Maine on a Fundamentals of Innovation course available online to high school students as an early college course that allows them to earn college credits while designing an app submission for the Maine App Challenge.

Since its inception, the Maine App Challenge has gifted more than $100,000 in 529 college savings plans to students in Maine. <

Friday, April 9, 2021

RSU 14 explores adding in-person instruction days for students

RSU 14 students, teachers, and staff will find out this week
if students in the district will return to in-person instruction
four or five days per week. Under the current hybrid plan, 
they are only attending in-person two days a week because
of the pandemic. The RSU 14 Board of Directors is expected
to make an announcement about it this week.
By Ed Pierce

Students in RSU 14 could soon be back in the classroom two or three additional days a week if school administrators and school board members approve a plan to return in-person instruction four days a week.

Last August, RSU 14 Schools Superintendent Christopher Howell recommended that the school district adopt a hybrid model for the start of the school year for students in Windham and Raymond. Since last September, RSU 14 students have been grouped alphabetically with last names from A to K having in-person classes in school on Mondays and Wednesdays and those with last names from L to Z attending in-person classes in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On days when students are not in school, they have been expected to be following up online with their teachers to the best extent possible.

He said that the foundation of the hybrid proposal was to ensure the safety, equity and accessibility for all Windham and Raymond students.

Along with students, the pandemic has been hard on families, teachers, school staff members and school custodians, who have been putting in long hours because of the associated additional cleaning requirements for schools as a result of COVID-19. School cafeteria workers have also been challenged to provide different scenarios for student lunches, ranging from eating in the classroom to finding larger spaces in the schools for lunchrooms to accommodate social distancing mandates.

Using the hybrid schools plan, Howell said many CDC social distancing mandates were met by reducing the number of students in RSU 14 schools daily.

If the district increases in-person instructional days, Howell said that RSU 14 also is planning to continue to offer students a remote-only learning option if families do not feel comfortable with the proposed in-person plan for the remainder of the school year.

Information posted on the RSU 14 website earlier this week said that parents would need to have children attend school following whatever schedule model is directed by the board.


The information says remote options are possible, however, it is important to understand that any additional remote requests will be set up with online software and not added to the current remote teams. Students currently using remote learning are free to return to classroom instruction, but do not have to make the transition if their families wish to keep using the remote option through the end of the school year.  


“We will work to ensure that all students’ needs are met,” the info reads. “The district will provide transportation for families who are unable to transport.”

A survey was sent out to all students, families, and staff on April 1 to gather information to help the RSU 14 board reach a consensus about how to proceed.


The website information also details that if additional in-person instructional days are approved for RSU 14 schools, building administrators will work with staff to ensure appropriate social distancing guidelines are met and that spaces are conducive to engaged learning. And it further explains that building administrators will work to ensure adequate staff coverage for all classrooms. 


Whether the proposal adopted by the board is for four days of in-person instruction or for five days, the web statement says teachers would have their duty-free lunch and prep time in any of the proposed options.


“We understand that this has been an extraordinarily challenging year for all: staff, students, administrators, and community members. These are difficult decisions. It is important that we maintain a focus on student needs and then respond to challenges that staff are facing as we collaboratively problem solve the myriad of issues that this year has presented,” the statement reads. “Building administrators will work with teachers on a plan to support the transition. Any hourly staff who are asked to work additional hours will be compensated accordingly.”  


It says that the proposed increase to in-person instruction at this time is in response to expressed community needs for children to return to schools for as much in-person instruction as possible while maintaining adherence to social distancing and health/safety guidelines, as well as academic, social, and emotional needs of students.


“As more educators are vaccinated, school districts are examining possible schedule shifts to meet the needs of students and the community,” the web statement reads. “The RSU 14 Board of Directors has been kept abreast of building-level needs and challenges in response to COVID social distancing guidelines throughout the 2020-2021 school year. The RSU 14 Administrative Team would provide necessary updates to the full Board of Directors in response to any of the proposed options. Classroom spacing, furniture needs, social distancing protocols, instructional shifts, social emotional and academic planning, etc. are all being carefully examined and would be presented to the board for their input and consideration, as well. Every decision made by the RSU 14 Board of Directors is made following a thorough review of multiple perspectives. The board appreciates the feedback they’ve received regarding the proposed options to increasing in-person instruction and is reviewing survey data, emails, and other communication/feedback very carefully in order to make a decision.”


The RSU 14 Board of Directors was scheduled to make a final determination about additional in-person instruction days during a meeting on Wednesday evening. 

This article will be updated when information becomes available. < 

Friday, September 4, 2020

Windham, Raymond students and teachers return to classes Wednesday

RSU 14 school buses have been cleaned and
prepared in advance of students returning
to in-person instruction under a hybrid model
at the district's six schools starting on
Wednesday. RSU 14 has about 3,200 students
 and 750 teachers and staff members.
suAdd caption
By Ed Pierce
On Wednesday thousands of students in Windham and Raymond will return to classes under a hybrid schedule while adhering to guidelines put forward last month by the Maine Department of Education and Maine Center for Disease Control in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The framework for students returning to in-person instruction mandated meeting six requirements including symptom screening at home before the school day; physical distancing at school; wearing masks and face coverings; hand hygiene and sanitizing; use of personal protective equipment by teachers and school staff members; and establishing a policy of home isolation for staff and students until they recover from a COVID-19 diagnosis.   
Last month RSU 14 Superintendent Christopher Howell recommended that the school district adopt a hybrid model for the start of the school year. To operate under a hybrid model, Windham and Raymond students would be grouped alphabetically with last names from A to K having in-person classes in school on Mondays and Wednesdays and those with last names from L to Z attending in-person classes in school on Tuesdays and Thursdays. When RSU 14 students are not in school, they will be following up online with their teachers to the best extent possible.
“I am proud of the work that has been completed by RSU 14 staff and administrators over the past couple of months,” Howell said. “In a short period of time, they have worked diligently to redefine school programs that meet the safety guidelines that have been established by the Maine CDC and the Maine Department of Education.” help area families screen for possible COVID-19 symptoms, RSU 14 has made available a pre-screening tool identifying questions to be asked of children each morning. 
It’s been a summer like no other for RSU 14 administrators and Howell, who have been examining how to best transition students back to in-person instruction after spending much of the spring months receiving instruction from teachers online using Zoom after the pandemic struck.
“Our challenges mean every student and every staff member has to wear a mask,” Howell said. “We’ve also had to undertake the challenge of managing and ensuring that the district has a sufficient supply of personal protective equipment ready and available. Like everyone else this summer, we’ve been thinking about what school will be like this fall and will students be safe.”
RSU 14 has 3,200 students and 750 staff members at six schools, including Windham High School. Windham Middle School, Jordan-Small Middle School, Windham Primary School, Manchester School and Raymond Elementary School.
As of Sept. 1, Maine had the second-lowest total of COVID-19 cumulative cases in the nation at 340 per 100,000 people and 4,548 since the pandemic began. In the final week of August, Maine also showed the 16th smallest increase overall among U.S. states for the seven-day period of Aug. 24 to Aug. 31 at 3.9 percent.
To come up with a plan to safely get students back into the classroom, RSU 14 administrators had to work around a number of limitations that restricted the number of students allowed on school buses to 26 and no more than 50 students allowed in a group together at one time. They also had to comply with social distancing requirements for desks in classrooms, create new medical isolation rooms at each school, install new plexiglass protective barriers in schools, upgrade air filtration systems at each school, and ensure frequent cleaning of physical surfaces throughout the schools.
“We recognize kids can’t spend all day in the classroom,” Howell said. “We’ve also looked carefully at classroom space to keep students 3 to 6 feet apart and only 10 students in a classroom.”
For student and families choosing to opt out of in-person instruction because of COVID-19 concerns, the district will provide distance learning and laptops for students. Technology sessions are available for parents and students to help them navigate the distance learning process.
“RSU 14 continues to work to provide a mix of hybrid, distance, and multi day programs for our students.  The staffing of all of the positions that are required for a mix of programs is monumental,” Howell said. “Through some creative problem solving and flexibility, we will be able to offer a variety of school attendance options for families in our district.” <