Elizabeth Forward Remakes Learning
The Elizabeth Forward (EF) School District’s efforts to remake learning are proving to be incredibly successful. The district originally expected to see a slight decrease in enrollment this year, from 2,355 in 2013-14 to 2,302 in 2014-15; however, school began on August 28th with 2,377 students, and the district now expects to hire several more teachers to meet demand. Officials believe the enrollment increase is due to the district’s reputation for high-tech learning, including the distribution of iPads to every student. EF also publicly announced the creation of a new consortium of districts, working with Carnegie Mellon University, to develop and share best practices for using Situated Multimedia Arts Learning Labs (SMALLabs). According to Assistant Superintendent Todd Keruskin, “This is a partnership like no other.” Districts in New York, Louisiana, and Alabama have expressed interest in joining it; other districts currently in the consortium are Pittsburgh Public Schools, McKeesport, West Allegheny, Seneca Valley, and Southeastern Greene.
EF recently unveiled its new high school FABLAB (fabrication lab), the launch of eSpark software designed to provide personalized learning pathways for elementary students, and continued emphasis on the Dream Factory maker lab (recently featured in a news segment on KDKA-TV). Middle school principal Trisha Maddas commented that the new innovations are “changing culture and the way we do business here, engaging kids especially with creativity.”