Several nationally renowned education leaders and speakers presented during the three-day School System Leadership Team Conference at the Charleston Civic Center, including retired NASA astronaut Winston Scott.
“I know that I would have never been able to travel into space if it weren’t for the encouragement of my teachers,” said Scott.
West Virginia teachers had a glimpse of today’s global world as Scott noted the ethnic make-up of his shuttle crew: an Indian, an Asian, a Russian and two Americans. Scott traveled to space twice before retiring from NASA in 1999. In July 2003, Scott assumed the position of executive director of the Florida Space Authority. In this capacity he advises Florida’s governor and legislators on all matters related to space and aeronautics within the state of Florida. Scott also is a part time professor of aeronautics at the Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, Florida.
All West Virginia school districts have actively participated on School System Leadership Teams. A group of teachers and administrators from each county were chosen to participate in the two-year training process designed to improve the overall effectiveness of school districts. Included in this process has been significant training on the characteristics of high performing districts and principles of strategic planning and total quality management.
During this conference the Frameworks for 21st Century Schools and Classrooms were unveiled. Working with 21st Century Partnership members, WVDE staff developed three series of visionary documents that describe the specific roles of the classroom teacher, the principal and central office staff in developing a 21st century school system that produces 21st century graduates. These Frameworks are the foundation for professional development and technical assistance and unite the efforts of the 55 school districts with the Governor, Legislature and West Virginia Board of Education.
“Gone are the days when students could simply memorize facts,” said State Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “Now students must have critical thinking skills, communication skills and problem solving skills if they are to thrive at the global level.”
The 21st century education model that assures West Virginia students will have the knowledge and skills they need to succeed and prosper today and tomorrow includes six key elements: Core Subjects; 21st Century Content; Learning Skills; 21st Century Learning Tools; 21st Century Context and 21st Century Assessment.
“As educators, our challenge is to provide instruction that is not only relevant, engaging and meaningful, but that also includes the world-class rigor necessary to prepare our students to be competitive in the 21st century workplace,” said Paine.
In November 2005, West Virginia became the second state to be accepted into the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (http://www.21stcenturyskills.org). Governor Joe Manchin, state legislators, business leaders and community leaders joined the WVDE, state Board of Education and educators to show an unprecedented level of cooperation in the effort to bridge the gap between education and economic development in West Virginia.