Education technology leaders in Harlan County schools have won Stilwell – Harlan Foundation awards

Education technology leaders in Harlan County schools have won Stilwell Awards

Posted at 9:00 AM on Friday, November 25, 2022

The Harlan County School Board discussed several items during the regular November committee meeting, including Stillwell Award winners and a Post-Secondary Implementation Program.

Board Chairman Gary Farmer called Superintendent Brent Roarke to report to the board.

“I’ll start with the Stilwell Awards, and that’s for our technology department,” Rourke said. “When COVID hit, we had to completely change gears with what we were doing… We were expected to go from teaching kids in a classroom to a virtual environment, and it wasn’t in our wheelhouse.”

According to Roarke, the district needed more information and resources to teach children outside of in-person education. Rourke credits the technical department for making the change quickly and efficiently.

“They made everything change for us, and it was almost immediately,” Roarke said. “It didn’t feel like it was immediate when we were working with them to get it up and running, but if you look at the amount of time it took to go from 0 to 60, it was incredible.”

Rourke explained that the Stilwell Prize takes into account developments over a two-year period.

“Really, the drastic improvements came in just a matter of months,” Roarke said. “The guys here tonight are the core of our region’s technology. These are the guys who made it happen.”

The Stilwell Award is presented by the Kentucky Department of Education.

The Kentucky Department of Education website at states, “KDE presents the award on an annual basis. The mark on the award reads: “For personal dedication and distinguished service in educational technology to educators and children of the Commonwealth.”

Rourke announced that the award winners from the Harlan County schools were Brent Chitwood, Mike Scott, Doug Bowling, Gene Mills, Chris Caldwell, Austin Hall, Daphne Saylor, and Curt Rezyk.

The technical team received the award for several activities, including the deployment of more than 3,000 Chromebooks and the installation and upgrade of Internet connections and virtual learning software.

Rourke then called everyone before the council to receive their award. Recipients were presented with commemorative coins denoting their award.

“I appreciate all of you,” said Rourke.

The board also heard from District Special Education teacher Jennifer Brock about an after-school implementation project.

“We brought Jennifer Brooke into the area last year when we were having some problems with special education,” Roark said. “You wrote an application for additional money… On top of what we already had… I got $150,000 for two years, which is an additional $300,000 for the transitional work program you want to put in place.”

Brock told the board about the After School Implementation Anticipation Project.

“The project provides additional funding of $150,000 annually for two consecutive years to focus on post-secondary transition programs at Harlan County High School,” Brock said. “I, along with a team of district and school leaders, will complete a school and district self-assessment to implement the prediction, and through this assessment, we will identify areas of transition that we most need to focus on.”

I told the board that the Recruitment Specialist position had been identified as the greatest need. The Employment Specialist will work with local businesses to coordinate and implement placement opportunities for special education students.

The Board passed a motion to approve the After School Implementation Project. The Board has additionally approved the Job Description for the Recruitment Specialist.

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