Edgemont teachers leading the way at National Customized Learning Summit

Submitted photo

Edgemont teachers who attended a recent summit in Rapid City included, back row, from left: Samantha Christensen (MS science and language arts); Jon Horton (MS math and history), Karen Ley (MS/HS SPED and geography), Michele Joint (elementary SPED), Garland Wright (HS language arts and k-12 Spanish). Middle Row: Michelle Urban (upper elementary), Susan Ostenson (elementary Title), Pam Lauritsen (upper elementary), Becky Harding (student advisor), Joe Martin (k-12 PE, HS history), Suzanne Hollenbeck (k-12 band/choir, government). Front Row: Amy Ferley (superintendent), Terri Brown (primary), Pam Koller (primary). Not pictured: April Rhodes (technology), Cheryl Butler (HS science), Brad Zachow (k-12 principal, AD), Susan Humiston (school board member), Shane Miller (school board member).


EDGEMONT— Edgemont teachers took to a national stage from July 16-18 to share the innovations they are implementing in their classrooms. Nineteen members of the Edgemont School District joined over three hundred other educators from around the nation at the National Customized Learning Summit in Rapid City.

English and Spanish teacher Garland Wright presented two sessions about customized learning in her classroom. 

Wright shared, “From extending learning opportunities for delayed learners to structuring opportunities for voice and choice, I have strived to move beyond theory and into practice.” She shared with other educators her resources to implement the 20 Time Project, as well as the Junior and Senior Projects. 

According to Wright, “These projects encourage student innovation and entrepreneurship in ‘real world’ ways. They teach students autonomy and the ability to self-direct their learning.”

Elementary teachers Pam Koller, Michele Joint, and Michelle Urban presented how the implementation of customized learning in the classroom has benefited students identified for special education. These benefits include removing the stigma of being labeled special education and allowing all learners to do their learning in the regular classroom. 

With little collaboration time, the teachers had to get creative about how to communicate with each other and their paraprofessionals about student progress and needs in the classroom. Attendees were able to see the documents the teachers created in order to fill this communication void. 

Urban also presented with a group of SD teachers about how they are customizing learning using concepts from The Book Whisperer to foster a love of reading in their students. Through Urban’s work, elementary students are not only reading more than ever but learning how to have scholarly conversations about their reading with their peers and teachers.

Other Edgemont teachers, administrators, and board members were able to attend sessions relating to customized learning and implementing the concepts into the district. Research confirms that the most important determinate of student success is the quality of teaching that goes on in a school.

The National Customized Learning Summit offered teachers the ability to hone their craft through exposure to cutting edge practices and the opportunity to network with other schools and faculty. It was evident that Edgemont School has a growing reputation for being on the forefront of innovation in education and is becoming a destination for other educators to visit.

New and seasoned teachers left the conference brimming with ideas and strategies to implement in the new school year. They continue to work to prepare for their course schedules, creating lessons that will be more customized to individual students.

As students gear up to return to the classroom, they should be ready to contribute to the work that is meaningful, challenging, and relevant to them personally.

Fall River County Herald Star

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