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Murray Ind., Calloway Co. officials tell local chamber technology is very important in preparing students for the future; superintendent says schools are preparing students for "jobs that haven't even been invented yet"

Murray Ledger & Times, Nov. 15, 2017

School districts address chamber
By HAWKINS TEAGUE

Officials with both local school districts spoke Tuesday about the many issues that affect public education, but one theme was common: they all consider technology extremely important in getting children prepared for the future.

Both Calloway County Schools and the Murray Independent School District had representatives speak during Tuesday’s Murray-Calloway County Chamber of Commerce’s [email protected] at the CFSB Center.

Calloway County Schools Superintendent Tres Settle opened his remarks by thanking community members that had helped the district in any capacity, citing the Coretta Scott King quote, “The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”

Settle said there were many challenges affecting the future of education. He said the district continues to deal with ongoing state cuts to its funding at the same time it is trying to handle escalating costs of technology. Recruitment of teachers has become increasingly more challenging as well, he said.

Settle said keeping up-to-date on technology is important in preparing students for the future, and that unfortunately, it sometimes feels like schools are teaching “21st-century students in a 20th-century classroom.”

“Jack Welch, former CEO of General Electric, said this many years ago, and I think it is so true. ‘When the rate of change outside an organization exceeds the rate of change inside, the end is near,’” Settle said. “This is true for public education, it’s true for secondary education. We’re in a competitive market now. There are other avenues for education for students, and we’ve got to change what we’re doing or we’re going to get passed by.

“That’s going to be the challenge for Calloway County Schools – meeting the needs of all students in the 21st century marketplace. … We’re pushing these kids out into an environment where there are jobs that haven’t even been invented yet using technology that hasn’t even been invented yet.”

The audience also heard from Josh McKeel, Calloway County Schools’ director of pupil personnel; Brian Wilmurth, assistant superintendent; and Tawnya Hunter, the public information officer for the district.

Murray Independent Schools Superintendent Coy Sammons was not available to appear at the breakfast because he was out of town at a meeting for independent school districts. Lou Carter, director of curriculum and instruction, and Whitney York, technology integration specialist, spoke about the district on his behalf.

Carter said keeping as up-to-date as possible on technology is very important, adding that the district purchased 30 Google Chromebooks two years ago. Since then, the number has increased to more than 700 Chromebooks for students to use and more than 50 for teachers.

York echoed Settle’s sentiment of needing to be as cutting edge with technology as possible.

“We don’t even know what we’re preparing them for,” York said. “We have no idea the jobs they are going into, we don’t know what those are yet. The skills that they need, we’re not really sure what those are yet. But we know whatever job they do, they’re going to use technology.

“So we use it for a lot of reasons. Not just because they’re going to have to do it, but also because they love it. They’re engaged by it. They pay attention to it.”

Carter spoke about how important community volunteers are to the school districts, using a recent “Shark Tank“ competition as an example. She said community members helped judge presentations as students pitched products to them.

“We could not run our school without you,” Carter said. “We have over 25,000 logged volunteer hours, and that’s huge. It’s coming in working with students, reading with them, doing the old-fashioned multiplication cards, eating lunch with a student, anything such as that.”

Carter said she would welcome anyone to volunteer, but she said they especially needed men to volunteer because many students have no male role models in their lives.

The breakfast was the last one under the leadership of Aaron Dail, who will be leaving his job as the chamber’s president at the end of the month. He is going to work for CFSB, and he would he would continue to be active in the community and would continue to attend [email protected] in the future.

“I’ll be here; I’ll actually just be sitting in the crowd and looking around and thinking, ‘Wow, this is actually how a breakfast goes without physically being up at the front.’”

Dail thanked the chamber staff and said he was excited for Michelle Bundren to take on the role of interim president while the chamber’s board of directors searches for its next president. He said she had been instrumental in all chamber events for the last year-and-a-half and had basically been a “co-director” with him during that time.

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