Technology, Extended Learning, Focus Of Huntsville City State Of The Schools Address

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – What does it take to get a child really interested in education?

That’s the question Huntsville City School leaders have been trying to answer since Superintendent Casey Wardynski first joined the district.

On Tuesday, the Superintendent gave his 3rd annual State of the Schools address. He says the first year was all about improving finances and teaching staff; the second year was about curriculum; And this year was all about the payoff.

“Whether they are cyber security or biotech, or health services or logistics, we want something there for each of our children so we can answer the age old question ‘what would I ever do with this’,” said Wardynski.

For much of his address Wardynski focused in on how the district has grown. From the approved addition of several new schools and career readiness academies, to expanded International Baccalaureate, Advanced Placement, STEM Labs and duel enrollment programs throughout the district.

“Kids need rigor and they can reach the expectations implied in an AP and IB curriculum.”

Wardynski heralded the controversial Common Core standards as a necessary component for student success.

“How would we do that? Why would we do that? Those are all 21st century questions, and to prepare for that in Huntsville we’re doing things a little differently,” said Wardynski.

He pointed to a global classroom, where the digital curriculum and technology has allowed students to interact with and learn from students around the world.

However, the past year wasn’t without it’s struggles.

The district is embroiled in a legal battle with the Department of Justice. The district also has 7 schools on the state’s so-called Failing Schools list.

But Wardynski is hopeful for the future …and what 2014 will bring.

“Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary  is on that list, and they have 2 years of good data, we’re looking for that 3rd year under [the new testing regime],” said Wardynski. “This year they were named one of the top 10 elementary schools in the state. That might indicate they`re in pretty good shape.”

Some other accomplishments and goals noted during the State of the Schools address:

  • The district fed three times more children than any other school system in the state through its summer feeding programs.
  • With the completion of several building projects, the percentage of students attending schools with storm shelters will increase from 2% to nearly 30%.
  • 27% of schools will move from obsolete or overcrowded schools to new 21st century schools, with most being under 30 years old.
  • The plan to expand Project Lead the Way STEM education into all elementary schools, making it the only district in the nation to do so.
  • They hope to implement SMAL Labs in every middle school.