The new school year is off to a great start and when more than 75 people showed up to the first PTSA meeting of the year PTSA president Anna Hochkammer was pleased.
Palmetto Senior High School principal Dr. Allison Harley said in her opening remarks that the school budget had passed, that every classroom now has smart boards, that they were well received by students and teachers, and that the school startup was “totally smooth, even boring.” Harley went on to talk about the change from CORE to Florida Standard testing. She discussed how all ninth-grade students would be given the opportunity to use tablets in school. Then Hochkammer spoke.
“This is a community school,” she said. “We are friends, neighbors, relatives and coworkers, and we take care of our own. We take care of our kids. We get them the materials and resources they need to achieve excellence every day.
We take care of our school. We provide the volunteers, time and creativity to solve problems and engage in the larger community. We take care of our parents by providing the friendship, community and know-how to help our families succeed. The school is the center of our community and we are a pillar of that community.”
Hochkammer went on to tell how important it was to communicate with one another. She reminded parents they could find everything at www.palmettohighptsa.org and should sign up for the Twitter feed @MPSHPTSA.
There is also an e-blast that all parents need to sign up for and receive.
The PTSA does not do fundraising, but they do survive on donations. They are ahead of schedule, but everyone is still encouraged to make a donation.
“Whether it’s $5 or $500,” she said, “every cent will go towards helping your child.”
On Oct. 10 from 3 to 7 pm, Gus Machado Ford (15551 S Dixie Highway) will host Drive 4 UR School where every test drive of a Ford will result in a $20 donation to the PTSA. There will be entertainment, food and fun for the whole family. Hochkammer likened it to “money in the street” and hoped everyone would make it out.
PALMETTO SENIOR HIGH STUDENT TABLETS
Palmetto Senior High assistant principal Karina Menendez was very popular with students at the start of the school year as she handed out the new Hewlett-Packard tablets to ninth graders.
“In conjunction with the Miami-Dade County Public School District, we offered our students the opportunity to check out tablets for their educational use,” Menendez said. “The response has been fantastic and the kids love it!”
Since the beginning of the year, freshmen have been using tablets that stayed in the classroom; with the plan to roll out personal-issue devices once everyone got their feet wet.
“Issuing technology to hundreds of students was a fun and challenging project for us,” said Dr. Harley. “We wanted to ensure all the right software and textbooks were installed, and that our students and teachers were able to instantly use the tablets.” Students will use the tablets to replace their World History textbook to start.
“Those books tend to be some of the heaviest,” said Dr. Harley.
The school district plans to supplant additional books as time goes on, with a goal of loading all textbooks onto the tablets. This will lighten the student’s backpacks considerably. Besides shedding weight, the tablets allow students to interact with the smart boards now installed in every classroom. It should be noted that parents and students had the opportunity to continue using traditional books. Less than one-percent chose that route.
“The students are still a bit apprehensive because they are more accustomed to using technology in a recreational way,” said Harley. “They are also realizing they are responsible for the care of this equipment.
This is a period of adjustment for everyone, but we see it leading great places.”
Students can use the tablets to take notes in other classes and they should also be able to do some homework assignments outside of World History.”
This will change the way schools teach and teachers are excited,” said Harley. “Everything is at the fingertips of the child. Instead of deferring a question when the answer is outside the textbook, teachers now can have everyone in the class utilize the Internet to research an answer right then and there. They don’t have to say ‘Find that answer at home.’”
The tablets are not free. They are leased for the school year at a cost of $20. Parents are offered insurance for $47.70 that provides unlimited protection, including theft. As a parent of a Panther freshman, I jumped at the chance to arm my kid with this opportunity. Besides saving her back from 50-pounds of books, I know this will lead to a more interactive education.