▪ Susan McLaughlin-Jones, a science teacher at Lafayette High School, has received the 2016 Copper Black Award for Creative Achievement from the Mensa Foundation. This national honor included $500, a plaque and a medal.
The Mensa Foundation judges were impressed with McLaughlin-Jones’ development of Culturally Engaging Instruction, a teaching strategy to address achievement gaps among students from diverse backgrounds. CEI, a model that emerged from McLaughlin-Jones’ 2012 dissertation, uses cultural cues to improve student engagement. Field-tested in her classroom and around the school district, CEI has produced anecdotal, qualitative and quantitative results.
McLaughlin-Jones earned her bachelor’s degree in physics from St. Vincent College in Latrobe, Penn., and her master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Kentucky. She has taught in Fayette County Public Schools since 1996 and at Lafayette since 2000. She is also youth coordinator for Bluegrass Mensa, a local chapter of Mensa International.
▪ Three groups from Fayette County Public Schools have been invited to perform during the Kentucky Music Educators Association’s 2017 professional development conference next winter: Beaumont Middle School’s symphonic band, directed by John Bowmer, 1:25 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Louisville Palace Theater; Paul Laurence Dunbar High School’s wind symphony, directed by Teresa Elliott, 2:05 p.m. Feb. 9 at the Louisville Palace Theater; and Tates Creek High School’s percussion ensemble, directed by Aaron Cunningham, 2:45 p.m. Feb. 10 in the Galt House ballroom.
The double elimination tournament was held July 31-Aug. 2 in Boston and featured 34 teams from 18 universities. The members of this year’s championship team are Erica Rogers, Daniella Straathof and April Winebarger. Will Fox, Megan Harper and Rachel Hart comprised the other team from the UK College of Agriculture, Food and Environment.
The team’s undefeated first-place achievement follows last year’s runner-up performance at the event and several years of constant improvement under the guidance of professor of Agricultural Economics Wuyang Hu and coach Jerrod Penn, a doctoral student.
▪ Chris Robinson, a Model Laboratory High School teacher, has been named the first full-year teacher-in-residence at the National Museum of the American Indian, part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.
Robinson, who boasts Creek and Georgia Cherokee blood from his mother and who identifies culturally with the Tlinglit of southeast Alaska, said the position “gives indigenous peoples of the United States the opportunity to craft curriculum that is accurate and representative of the periods of U.S. history from extinction to self-determination. This is the first real and meaningful instance that our people have had to do so in 500 years of contact.
“American Indians, Native Alaskans and Pacific Islanders have been and continue to be largely marginalized as peoples in our nation,” Robinson said.
The Smithsonian search committee said Robinson’s participation in the program “demonstrates the commitment this museum has to creating first-class educational materials about Native people for teachers worldwide.”
In his ninth year at Model Lab, Robinson teaches courses on economics, world civilizations, the United Nations, world cultures and two nationally unique high school courses: Ancient Egypt: Prehistory through the Ptolemy Dynasties, and Archaeology Methods and Theory. His archaeology class is partnered with the Kentucky Archaeologic Survey and Eastern Kentucky University’s archaeology program.
Robinson, an assistant professor at EKU, is also serving his second term as a member of the Kentucky Native American Heritage Commission and as chief executive officer of the Kentucky Center for Native American Arts and Culture.
▪ Four Scott County schools — Garth, Georgetown Middle, Scott County Preschool and Southern — will offer free lunch to every student via a government grant. Garth, Georgetown and Southern will also offer students free dinner.
Parents can view the menu and nutritional guidelines for breakfast and lunch meals by downloading the Meal Viewer To Go app or from the nutrition department Web page at Scott.kyschools.us. For more information, contact Mitzi Marshall, director of nutrition, at 502-570-3035, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
▪ Local artist Michelle Armstrong, who teaches at Cardinal Valley Elementary, recently wrapped up a year-long mural project in downtown Lexington. Her artwork, which depicts a beehive, native Kentucky flowers and bees, appears on all four sides of The Hive Salon and ArtHAUS, 156 Deweese Street. Armstrong got an assist from several student groups, including the Sisopromateum Art Club, the Cub Scouts in Pack 121, and Cardinal Valley Elementary’s art club.
Each group worked with Armstrong to design a hexagon as part of the beehive with a message about helping the honey bees. Her school’s art club students came up with the slogan “Keep calm and save our pollinators.”
Armstrong and Carla Brown, owner of the Hive Salon, received a LexArts grant and also ran an Indiegogo campaign to raise money for the project.
▪ The 2017-18 application window for gifted and talented programs, magnet schools, specialized academic programs and technical centers is open through Oct. 7. Individual open houses in the coming weeks will explain the options, which focus on students’ needs, interests and abilities. Fayette County Public Schools will also host a districtwide information night from 5 to 7 p.m. Sept. 22 at Henry Clay High School.
▪ Students at Madison Central High School began the 2016-17 school year with a new Roland digital piano lab, courtesy of a partnership between Madison Central High School and Gist Piano Center.
Central to the new piano lab is a Roland lab conferencing system, giving the teacher control over what the students hear through their headsets. “With this control box, a teacher can pair students together, create work groups, work with a student one-on-one or even broadcast a student or group of students to the class,” said James Harding, director of sales and marketing at Gist Piano Center.
Each of the 16 new Roland student pianos is compatible with a number of free iPad apps that give students the ability to practice with digital flashcards, record and mix their own music, and play with music background files at whatever speed is comfortable for them.
▪ YouthAlert! is offering a six-hour Violence and Bullying Prevention/Health Program to reduce violence and bullying and improve the health of children and youth of elementary- (bullying only), middle- and high-school age to schools throughout the Bluegrass. This interactive program is shown during health classes and is part of YouthAlert!’s 18-week national health curriculum.
▪ Three linchpins in Fayette County Public Schools Superintendent Emmanuel Caulk’s commitment to public accountability and proactive communication are now live on the school district’s website.
From the front page of Fcps.net, people can track the district’s progress on the 100 strategies in the Superintendent’s Blueprint, access a first-of-its-kind District Scorecard, and view organizational charts to see how the district office is structured to support schools.
“These tools provide an unprecedented level of transparency to our community. We want all of our stakeholders to be fully aware of and engaged in our efforts to improve the district,” Caulk said.
“Blueprint for Student Success: Achieving Educational Excellence and Equity for All” outlines 100 specific strategies that — according to the external reviews conducted, stakeholder input gathered — the superintendent has identified as priorities in order to improve outcomes for all students during the 2016-17 school year.
The public can view the blueprint by clicking a button on the top left of the school district home page, or use the shortcut www.fcps.net/blueprint.
The status tracker displays whether each strategy is red to indicate no work has been done, yellow to indicate that work is in progress, or green to indicate that the task is complete. The status tracker is updated on the 17th of each month.
▪ Lewis Diaz, a partner at Dinsmore and Shohl, has been sworn in to the EKU Board of Regents by Gov. Matt Bevin for a term ending in 2022. A member of Dinsmore’s public finance group, Diaz concentrates his practice on affordable housing and traditional governmental finance.
▪ Lester Diaz, who has led Bryan Station Middle School since 2012, has been named principal of the new high school under construction off Winchester Road in northeast Lexington.
Diaz, who has 17 years of experience in education, started his career teaching in Miami, Fla. He joined the Fayette County Public Schools in 2004 as a science teacher at Lafayette High School, where he also served as an in-school suspension instructor, dean of students, assistant athletic director and assistant football coach. Diaz was an assistant principal at Henry Clay High School for three years before accepting the head principal’s post at Bryan Station Middle.