The Middlesboro Independent School District is 1 of 17 rural school districts that is included in the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI). Lead by the Kentucky Valley Education Cooperative (KVEC) and supported by the federal “Race to the Top” grant, ARI is a consortium of 17 regional school districts that have made commitments to share resources and professional learning opportunities. These 17 districts are collectively working to connect learners to highly effective teachers every day. They focus on five important components of education: personalized learning environments, next-generation classrooms, accessible data systems, effective teachers and leaders, and college and career readiness.
ARI, lead by KVEC, was awarded the “Race to the Top” federal grant for four years. Since the grant’s inception at the beginning of the 2014-2015 school year, the Middlesboro Independent School District has been able to expand technology throughout the district, increasing the number of iPads and Chromebooks for students to use in class. Each school now includes a Next Generation Classroom equipped with a MondoPad and classroom set of iPads.
Teachers are given the opportunity to apply for $1,000 Learning Innovation Mini grants each year through ARI. These grants are given to teachers to fund innovative practices in their classrooms. Teachers present their ideas at a Promising Practice Summit in the fall of the year and again in the spring at the regional Action Research Summit to share their associated results. Learning Innovation grant recipients for the 2015-2016 school year are Prudie Thomas, Mary Allen, Randy Rose, Kristy Lewis, Angela Green, and Amy Martin/Jenna Voges.
ARI supports “student voice” and has established a student agency called the Student Senate. As part of the Student Agency component, Student Senators are chosen to represent each high school. A junior and senior representative from each high school serve on the Student Senate and work collectively with other district representatives to ensure that student voices are heard. Middlesboro High School representatives for the 2015-2016 school year are Noah Brown and Rebecca Prichard.
Another important component of ARI is college and career readiness. Through programs such as Project Lead the Way (PLTW) and the Appalachian Technology Institute (ATI), students have the opportunity to be exposed to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) classes such as Engineering and Aviation/Aerospace.
To provide leadership, guidance and support, each district has a District Innovation Coordinator who focuses on and supports the coordination and implementation of District Initiatives related to the ARI components. Tina Johnson serves as the District Innovation Coordinator for Middlesboro. ARI has also established a Next Generation Teacher and Leadership Academy that focuses on positive outcomes regarding the Race to the Top District (RTTD) and Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI) grant. Middlesboro Independent Schools has a leadership team comprised of district and school leaders who participate in the academy and provide district and regional support to leverage innovation.
Middlesboro Independent Schools is proud to be a part of the Appalachian Renaissance Initiative. Our students are receiving many wonderful opportunities that would not have been possible without this grant. Project Lead the Way, STEM, Ripple Effects, and WIN math are just a few of the programs that will impact student learning for years to come. Our students will benefit greatly from personalized, blended, and project-based learning.
The mission of Middlesboro Independent Schools is to promote “a relentless dedication to motivate and inspire student success”. We believe that every student is a unique individual who deserves the best education possible and we strive to do everything we can to offer our students the opportunity to succeed.