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Secretary of Education Matthew Malone tours Longmeadow High School

Date: 9/25/2014

LONGMEADOW – Massachusetts Secretary of Education Matthew Malone met with students and faculty during a tour of Longmeadow High School (LHS) on Sept. 18 during which he visited classrooms and discussed upcoming state grants with school administration.

Superintendent of Schools Marie Doyle said this is the first time a secretary of education has visited Longmeadow Public Schools during her 11 years managing the district.

“In addition to having him see what we do on a daily basis, we’re particularly excited about him seeing the integration of technology,” LHS Principal Thomas Landers said.

Malone said a technology grant for $5 million would become open to applicants in the Commonwealth within the next two weeks. The grant is bonded for $30 million over the next four years.

“We absolutely will apply for the technology grant because we’ve had a five-year plan for technology,” Doyle said. “The high school is now a [bring your own device model] but our next goal is [one device per child] and as we move towards online learning it would be wonderful to supplement this initiative.” 

“We are now making it policy that whenever we buy textbooks there’s an online version for students so they don’t have to carry textbooks home,” she added.

A pilot course for online Mandarin Chinese with Middlebury College might become available to students within the next couple of weeks, she said.

“We’re going to have a Technology Committee that looks at the curriculum,” she said. “Because of the PARCC (Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers) testing we need to raise expectations for what students are learning at each grade level.”

Malone also addressed the recently posted School Safety and Security Grant Program, which he believes the district should apply for as well. The submission closure fro this grant ends Oct. 24.

According to the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE), the School Safety and Security Grant focuses on expanding security efforts already in place in a school district while promoting long-term investments to prevent and respond to threats. Malone visited several classrooms during the tour, including Matt Flanagan’s Accounting II course, where students worked on computers.

“With the technology we have, specifically Alpia, I think [it] makes everything we’re doing a lot easier,” LHS senior Noah Hurwitz said. “It’s a big step up from the couple times we’ve had to write it down on paper. It’s a lot easier with the technology now.”

Malone also emphasized the opportunities available at attending state colleges and universities to LHS students.

The cost for state schools is significantly less than private schools and many schools such as the University of Massachusetts Lowell and the Massachusetts College of Art and Design are the top choices for many different fields, he added.

“Good libraries look like Starbucks,” Malone said while touring the LHS library. He noted that LHS had more of the atmosphere and design of a college than of a high school.

“This is exactly what our governor has been stressing for the last eight years; this idea of blended learning, this idea of flexible spaces, this idea of using technology as a tool to engage,” Malone said.

Malone said he saw four classrooms that had hands-on engagement of learning.

“I think that one of the things I judge when I look at schools is are we pushing individualized responsibility [with students] and it seems it here and they’ve embraced it,” he added. “I went by a study hall and every student is engaged. I don’t see that everywhere I go.

“Teachers here are coaches and they’re guiding and coaching kids through these learning experiences and the kids are really engaged because they’re treated like young adults,” he explained.