Tweet­ing into a new school year

The Covington News - - FRONT PAGE - DANIELLE EVER­SON de­v­er­son@cov­news.com, @ CovNewsDanielle

Twit­ter has chirped its way into New­ton County Schools. With an­other school year un­der way, NCSS ad­min­is­tra­tors, teach­ers and stu­dents are be­com­ing more in­ter­ac­tive on the so­cial me­dia site Twit­ter. Cre­ated ac­counts are start­ing to con­nect ev­ery­one in the school sys­tem.

NCSS Su­per­in­ten­dent Sa­man­tha Fuhrey said it’s her nat­u­ral de­sire and the school sys­tem’s goal to have New­ton County Schools be known as “the best,” and with the sup­port of the school sys­tem’s em­ploy­ees, that goal is at­tain­able.

She has cre­ated a Twit­ter ac­count for her­self, @FuhreySa­man­tha, and has also en­cour­aged school ad­min­is­tra­tors, teach­ers and even school board mem­bers to jump on board to send out pos­i­tive mes­sages about things go­ing on in the school sys­tem.

“One of the strate­gies em­ployed in our strate­gic frame­work and plan re­quires our teach­ers and staff to in­te­grate tech­nol­ogy,” Fuhrey said.

“The use of Twit­ter is a nat­u­ral next step for us as we work to im­prove staff morale, in­struc­tional tech­niques and stu­dent achieve­ment. Twit­ter has also served as a pro­fes­sional learn­ing tool, as teach­ers share ideas, re­search, their work and the work of their stu­dents.”

The slo­gan, or hash-tag, on the so­cial me­dia site, #NCSSBETHEBEST, is men­tioned at the end of her tweets (a 140word mes­sage on Twit­ter), which Fuhrey said is the over­all goal of what the school sys­tem is aim­ing to be.

Fuhrey said the slo­gan re­flects a col­lec­tive ef­fort to “be the best.” The slo­gan, in and of it­self, she said, prompts ev­ery­one

work­ing in the school sys­tem to think about their in­di­vid­ual ef­forts and ac­tions.

“Ev­ery­one is ac­count­able for the im­pact of their ac­tions. We want to be the best, so ev­ery­thing we do has to lead us there,” she said.

Twit­ter has al­ready started catch­ing on with ad­min­is­tra­tors, Board of Ed­u­ca­tion mem­bers and at sev­eral schools in the sys­tem.

Each of the high schools has Twit­ter ac­counts, which in­clude @Al­covyHS for Al­covy High School; @EHS_Ea­gles for East­side High School; @New­ton_High for New­ton High School. In ad­di­tion, the New­ton County School Sys­tem also has an ac­count, @ New­tonCoS­chools; New­ton County Theme School @nc­theme; and a list of oth­ers has been de­vel­oped.

At @Al­covyHS (Al­covy High School), teach­ers have al­ready been tweet­ing about what is be­ing taught in their class­rooms, and at­tach­ing pho­tos. And some ed­u­ca­tors have even said they hope to in­te­grate Twit­ter into their les­son plans.

AHS busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy teacher Michelle Fin­ley, who’s in charge of the school’s Twit­ter ac­count, said stu­dents in her busi­ness tech­nol­ogy and busi­ness law classes, will most likely be us­ing Twit­ter in the class­room. She said the goal of adding Twit­ter is to open up more class­room dis­cus­sions.

“I’ll post a ques­tion, as far as some­thing that they’ve got to re­search and then they just have to tweet back, like their thoughts in the lit­tle ar­ti­cle that they read,” Fin­ley said. “We’re go­ing to use it more like a blog.”

“We are go­ing to use it for when they find good ideas as far as tech­nol­ogy. When they find some­thing cool at home, I want them to tweet what they found so that we can use it in class,” she said.

Fin­ley said stu­dents will use their school email ad­dress to de­velop a Twit­ter ac­count so that they can use their ac­count for school. Fin­ley said she has gone over rules for the ap­pro­pri­ate uses of Twit­ter in the class­room.

As for run­ning the school’s Twit­ter ac­count, Fin­ley said AHS teach­ers have to fill out a Twit­ter re­quest form and have to get ap­proval be­fore any­thing is posted to the school’s Twit­ter ac­count. She said she is ex­cited about the whole idea of us­ing the so­cial net­work in the school sys­tem.

“I think it’s awe­some be­cause be­ing in your own class­room, you don’t see what’s go­ing on in the other peo­ple’s class­rooms,” she said. “It’s a good for idea shar­ing, [and] it’s pretty cool to see that peo­ple are do­ing pretty ex­cit­ing stuff.”

AHS ad­vanced place­ment bi­ol­ogy teacher Feli­cia Richard­son said though her stu­dents haven’t started tweet­ing in class, she’s been tweet­ing what they’ve been learn­ing in the class­room.

Richard­son or @FMRichard­son40 as she is pro­fes­sion­ally known on Twit­ter, also be­lieves that us­ing the so­cial me­dia site will be ben­e­fi­cial to stu­dents. Richard­son said though she isn’t the most tech­no­log­i­cally-pro­fi­cient per­son, she’s learn­ing.

“I think what it does is give them a new as­pect on be­ing able to con­nect tech­nol­ogy, which is a part of science,” Richard­son said. “We’re try­ing to bridge it to­gether to get them to learn the ma­te­ri­als that they need in science so that they can be suc­cess­ful.”

Al­covy High School’s prin­ci­pal San­dra Owens, @Drsjowens, said she’s also had to learn the ropes of Twit­ter, but said it’s some­thing she’s do­ing for the stu­dents.

“For us older folks, it’s a lit­tle bit more chal­leng­ing …, but again that’s what’s part of be­ing an ed­u­ca­tor; for me to help pre­pare the stu­dents, I need to step up to the plate,” Owens said.

“I think it’s great that she (Su­per­in­ten­dent Fuhrey) is lead­ing the way. See­ing her do it helps ease some of my ten­sions. So, it’s a lit­tle fright­en­ing for me, but again, that’s what we need to do to help our kids.”

Fuhrey said cre­at­ing an ac­count on Twit­ter, or us­ing so­cial net­work­ing, is not a re­quire­ment for any­one in the school sys­tem, but she said she hopes it’ll be used be­cause it has “tremen­dous po­ten­tial for com­mu­ni­ca­tion” with stu­dents.

“It’s a great way to show­case the hard work and ex­per­tise of all of our em­ploy­ees and learn about the great things go­ing on in the school sys­tem.”

Sub­mit­ted photo /The Cov­ing­ton News

New­ton County School Sys­tem of­fi­cials Craig Lock­hart, deputy su­per­in­ten­dent; Ed­die John­son, BOE mem­ber; Sa­man­tha Fuhrey, su­per­in­ten­dent; and Shan­non Buff, di­rec­tor of sec­ondary schools; hold up signs that show the “NCSS Be The Best” slo­gan on the first day of school.

Danielle Ever­son /The Cov­ing­ton News

Al­covy High School busi­ness and tech­nol­ogy teacher Michelle Fin­ley and AHS se­nior Luke Lock­lair use Twit­ter on their cell phones.

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