Centre School District Superintendent Receives National Award for Use of Technology in Education

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Monday, March 26th 2012
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LOST SPRINGS, Kan., March 26, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Jerri Kemble, superintendent of the Centre School District and director of the Kansas Online Learning Program, has been named one of 2012's Tech-Savvy Superintendents by eSchool News for her use of technology in offering blended learning to the district's students.

Sponsored by GlobalScholar and JDL Horizons, eSchool Media's 12th annual Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards recognize senior school district executives nationwide who best exemplify outstanding leadership and vision in using technology to advance their district's educational goals.

In the four years Kemble has been at the helm of Centre School District, she has designed and developed a virtual school and blended learning program, connected students of every age with cutting-edge technology, successfully integrated online tools to educate students, parents and staff, and met with President Obama and Vice President Biden to discuss ed-tech in her district and beyond.

"We live in a rural area of Kansas. Technology has been the tool that has allowed our school and students to connect to learning opportunities we would not have been able to do otherwise," said Kemble. "Technology integration is something that I am passionate about, and I am proud to work with a school board that is progressive and understands the needs of its students. Technology has enabled my school district to be on the cutting edge, even though we are actually located in a wheat field."

In 2008, Kemble and the Centre School District partnered with the National Network of Digital Schools and Lincoln Interactive to offer a virtual school program to all K-12 students in the state of Kansas. In addition to the full-time virtual school, Kemble implemented a blended learning program in the brick and mortar high school, adding 250 course offerings for Centre's high school students.  

"I could see that our students were offered a limited curriculum due to the small size of our school and its rural location. In searching for ways to offer our students more opportunities, I attended the Apple Conference where I met Dr. Nick Trombetta, founder of the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.  He told me how virtual education had expanded learning opportunities for the students in the brick and mortar setting  and offered increased enrollment to a district experiencing declining student population numbers," explained Kemble. "I wanted to give Centre's students those same experiences and opportunities and, at the same time, increase enrollment to provide a more stable working environment for staff."

In addition to virtual courses, Kemble has implemented a district wide program to connect all students with the physical technology needed to be successful in today's educational landscape. The district currently has a one-to-one laptop program at the high school; a two-to-one laptop program in grades 5-8; a one-to-one iPad program in grades 3-4; and a two-to-one iPod Touch program in grades K-2.

"These technology programs offer our students opportunities and resources they may not normally have," said Kemble. "Staff members work to integrate technology and focus on self-regulated learning to help our students take charge of their own education.  The students took to the technology easily and use the technology hourly."

"Our high school has over 40% of its students living in poverty or qualified at-risk.  I believe the laptops make our poorest students rich," she said.

Students are not the only ones benefitting from Kemble's use of technology in education. "I often hold informative sessions for our parents to help them understand how these various technology tools will be used in classrooms. And I encourage my staff to reach out to other districts to share with and learn from their experiences and their use of technology in the classroom."

As her district continues to thrive—Center School District had a 26% student increase in 2011—Kemble continues to learn about what more can be done. She attended a White House meeting on technology and virtual learning in 2010; in 2011, she was asked to meet with Vice President Biden's office to update him on the district's technology progress.