Albemarle County Public Schools Teachers particpate in Reboot Ed, a technology-focused professional development program.

At last week’s joint Albemarle Board of Supervisors and School Board meeting, school and social services staff proposed a new $1.8 million preschool program that could serve about 130 kids in the northern urban area.

School Board member Diantha McKeel said that the program, if adopted, could look different from the proposal, but that the County has a good pre-K model in Bright Stars, an existing County preschool program that provides early learning experiences and social support to at-risk 4-year-olds and their families.  

The new program would focus on 3- and 4-year-olds who, developmentally, would benefit from a preschool opportunity in order to enter kindergarten on grade level. Three-year-olds would be served after all 4-year-olds were. While families of 4 year-olds that can afford to pay market rates would also be eligible, the intent is to serve those who would qualify for a free program. 32 special education children could be added to the total as well if Albemarle County Public Schools participated.

The proposed budget figure does not include the construction of a new facility, Social Services Director Kathy Ralston said. Executive Director of K-12 Education Debbie Collins said the schools would prefer to house each preschool in the elementary school the students would attend. The challenges, Collins said, are a lack of space in the schools and funding the additional staff.

The next step, Board of Supervisors Chair Ann Mallek said, is for the School Board to have further discussion about the proposal.

Special education body sees turnover

The Parent Resource Center, a free service offering support to the parents of students with disabilities, is looking for a new coordinator. Sarah Blech, who worked for the program for more than 12 years, has taken a position with the City of Charlottesville.

“I am excited to continue working with individuals with disabilities and their families, fostering community partnerships, and expanding and supporting existing programs and events,” Blech said in an email announcing her departure.

The Parent Resource Center is the parent-education component of the Piedmont Regional Education Program, and it provides information to parents about school services, medical issues, and trainings, as well as special education information to educators. Additionally, the PRC distributes a monthly newsletter and keeps a calendar of events on their website. 
The Piedmont Regional Education Program is a publicly-funded organization that runs Ivy Creek School and administers numerous programs to support young people with physical and emotional disabilities. PREP serves Charlottesville, Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson, and Rappahannock County schools.

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This week’s EDUCATION ROUNDUP appears in C-VILLE Weekly

Reboot Ed has teachers learning

As the focus in education turns toward incorporating technology into the classroom,  many Albemarle County teachers have spent the last two weeks playing the role of the student.

In its first year, Reboot-Ed, a 12-day technology professional development program, has enrolled approximately 10 percent of County teachers. This comes at a time when professional development funds are on the rise from their 50 percent reduction in 2009.

“Educators who are willing to step out of their comfort zone prompt students to do the same,” said Jaime Foreman, Albemarle Tech Specialist and Organizer of the Reboot Ed program.

“Professional development is important because teachers have to be able to stay ahead of their students,” Albemarle schools spokesman Phil Giaramita said. “That can be hard when first- and second-graders can use iPhones.”

The program offers over 38 different courses in topics ranging from learning how to use Apple and Android devices to their full potential, to software-specific courses that teach Google Docs and Blackboard among others.

“It’s immediately applicable projects, presentations, and organizational skills,” said Judy Larrick, a Stone-Robinson Elementary Gifted Resource Teacher. “It is important for me to show my students the way, and they will take it from there.”