Three more Chilton Schools to get ACCESS

Published 8:38 pm Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Jemison, Thorsby and Isabella are among 85 high schools in the state that will receive videoconferencing capabilities through ACCESS Distance Learning.

Each of the schools will get $85,000 in grant money to fund the equipment for a distance learning lab by January 2009.

After the funding is allocated and the equipment received, all public high schools in Chilton County will offer ACCESS.

“We’re real excited here in Chilton County that all our high school students will be afforded the same opportunity throughout the system,” School Technology Coordinator Mary Clyde Huff said. “We are hoping everything will be in place and ready to go in January.”

Superintendent Keith Moore has been talking to principals to make sure each school has the space available for a distance learning classroom.

Thorsby Principal Russ Bryan is pleased that his students will have the opportunity to take advanced placement courses, more electives and foreign languages. Bryan, along with Huff and the other principals, attended a conference in Montgomery yesterday to learn about the ACCESS program.

“I can’t believe we’re getting it,” he said, “but I was very impressed with the presentation today. It’s going to be great for education and great for schools like ours.”

Isabella is already using distance learning on a limited basis, Principal Ricky Porter said. Online courses allow for dual enrollment in situations where students might otherwise lose credits due to scheduling conflicts.

ACCESS stands for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide. Gov. Bob Riley first proposed it during his State of the State Address in 2005. Earlier this year, the governor and State School Superintendent Joe Morton announced that all high schools in Alabama will have ACCESS Distance Learning by the time school begins in August 2009.

“Students in our rural communities are just as bright and just as capable as any others. They deserve as much opportunity as other children in this state,” Riley said. “Alabama will be the first state in the nation to have online learning and video conferencing in every high school.”