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Maplesville distance learn lab hosts academy

Some of the latest technology in Chilton County’s public schools is benefiting more than just students.

The University of Montevallo College of Education used the distance learning lab at Maplesville High School to conduct the 2009 Teacher Leader Academy on Tuesday and Wednesday. Several teachers participating in the program used videoconferencing to tap into a classroom at the university.

Videoconferencing enables people in classrooms located in different parts of the state to both see and hear each other via the Internet.

This was the second year for the academy, which was made possible through a teacher leader initiative grant awarded to the college in 2008. The academy is an offshoot of the Educational Specialist (Ed.S.) degree program in teacher leadership — the only program of its kind in the state.

“This event was a tremendous success,” said Dr. Glee Whitsett, director of elementary and secondary programs for UM. “It allowed the College of Education to participate in a distance learning opportunity and to kick off the fall semester of the Ed.S. in teacher leadership.”

Whitsett said the distance learning technology allows people in the college’s service area to take classes closer to home. It also helps foster partnerships with schools, and makes participants eligible for certain scholarships.

The UM College of Education’s service area targets Chilton, Perry and Hale counties. About 30 teachers took part in the academy.

“The Maplesville site just lets us get a little closer to them and make it more convenient for teachers,” she said.

The academy covers such areas as school improvement, teacher mentoring, professional learning groups, personal development and action research.

Maplesville High School Principal Maggie Hicks was glad to see that the partnership was a success.

“That’s what our labs are set up to do — broaden the horizons of our students because there is more out there than we are able to offer,” Hicks said.

“The labs are set up as a community service as well as for students.”