Although the way the Liberty school district implemented the LEARN and LEAD has been criticized, the two conversion schools’ alternative approach to education was never questioned.
They integrated technology such as iPads and smart boards plus foreign languages, stress-relief techniques such as yoga and individualized education plans for students.
In fact, it was the reason Portage County Educational Service Center wanted to sponsor the conversion schools after the Liberty school district lifted its own suspension of LEARN and LEAD.
“Portage County ESC was interested in sponsoring the two schools because of their record of academic excellence,” said Cheryl Emrich, the executive director of the service center, in an email Thursday. “PCESC saw this as an opportunity to continue and build upon that ... foundation.”
But Liberty Superintendent Stan Watson argued it had more to do with the conversion schools’ teachers, who came from Liberty and returned to the district for academic year 2012. He said the technology and supplies that were paid for by grants and left with the conversion schools did enhance the education, but “you can carry on a quality education without it.”
Pam McCurdy, the district’s curriculum director and a former first-grade teacher in LEARN and E.J. Blott Elementary before that, said the district’s administration was implementing all of the education techniques before LEARN and LEAD even started and continues them today.
For example, as part of a reading series, elementary students put together a dramatic presentation, or a “reading play,” that helps students better retain information from the book they are reading, McCurdy said.