Allen named a national 'Digital Innovator'

20150413-allenOldham County High School librarian James Allen has been named a 2015 PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovator. Allen, who also serves as the school's technology coordinator, is among a diverse group of 100 tech-savvy educators from across the country selected for his passion and commitment to innovative teaching practices that integrate digital media and technology in the classroom.

Over the next year, these tech-savvy educators will take part in a yearlong professional development program, preparing them to act as digital learning ambassadors in their local schools and communities.

A lifelong interest in technology placed Allen on a path to becoming a school librarian. The favorite part of his job is keeping technology updated in his school and discovering new tools and services that both students and teachers can leverage to improve learning experiences.

KET's education programming is part of American Graduate: Let’s Make it Happen, a public media initiative made possible by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

'Choose Kind' Library Opens at Goshen Elementary

20150409-skeesThe "Choose Kind" Library at Goshen Elementary is officially open! The ribbon cutting took place April 2nd with a large crowd in attendance. The school's 5th graders chose to build the "Choose Kind" Library as their legacy gift to the school. The library contains books that promote acceptance of kids with physical and social differences.

The ribbon cutting event kicked off with a potluck dinner and a video from students on why they decided to "choose kind." Several local authors were there to talk about their books with a choose kind message. Donations of books with the same message were also collected for the library.

Aiden Skees and his brother, Ethan, cut the ribbon and opened the door to the library. Their mother, Taryn Skees, proposed the idea for the library at the beginning of the year. Aiden was born with a craniofacial condition. Aiden and Taryn are pictured at left. 

View more photos and share your comments here.

Bestselling author workshops with NOHS creative writing class
20150326 0046"S" was for students Thursday when Sue Grafton, author of the best-selling alphabet series, met with students in the creative writing class at North Oldham High School.
Grafton is a Louisville native who still lives in the city, and recently released the 23rd book in her detective mystery series featuring Kinsey Millhone.
"I always wrote," she told students. "I wasn't particularly good at it but it was my passion."
Of her first 7 novels, only two were published. Number eight was “A is for Alibi,” which began the series she is best known for. 

Grafton talked to students about her writing process and daily routine, and answered specific questions from them about character development, scene descriptions and writing style. The discussion didn’t stay tied to Grafton’s own novels, or even to novel writing. Sitting in a circle of desks, the intimate group discussed writing plays, poetry and even songs.
Regardless of what kind of writing it is, Grafton said, a writer has to be “willing to write very badly for a long time.” Knowing when to abandon a story is part of the learning process, not defeat.
“I’ve started a hundred books I didn’t finish,” she said. “You have to have the courage to dump a book — then you're free. That's your learning process."
Besides, she said, "You don't take your first piano lesson then check in to Carnegie Hall for your concert."
When asked how she knows where to take the story, Grafton told students that writing is the process of making "thousands and thousands of decisions.” Make a pros and cons list, she said, and if it doesn't work, back up and try again.
Students were encouraged to write down every idea they have — you may not be able to use it now, or even know what to do with it, but you might come back to it later, she said. Grafton said she begins her day by journaling each morning — even if it just a “long whiny letter” to herself about not knowing what to write.
“I ask myself three questions,” Grafton said. "Is it plausible? Is it dramatic? Is it satisfying?"
Kinsey Millhone, Grafton said, is like Grafton’s alter-ego — “she’s who I might’ve been if I hadn’t married young and had kids,” she said.
20150326 0101"If I did it again, I might try to get into law enforcement,” Grafton said. Then she reconsidered. “But some safe part, not the part where you get killed in the street."
But, Millhone can only know what Grafton knows, which has led to extensive research over the years on topics like criminal law, court procedures, ballistics and forensics. She recommended students do the same — “act like a journalist,” she said.
And while Millhone may be Grafton’s second life, they’re not the same person, she said.
“(Millhone) cusses more than I do — she embarrasses me,” Grafton said. "She eats junk food, I don’t."
Grafton said she is fortunate that writing turned into a lucrative career, but that wasn’t the intent. “When I wrote 'A (is for Alibi)’, it was purely for the joy of it,” she said. “Even if it didn’t get published, I really enjoyed it."
Writing, she said, “is the toughest thing I have ever done — but it has given me meaning and purpose."
Regardless of if they are working on a future bestselling novel, a poem, a song or a play, Grafton told the class in the end, it is all story telling.
"We were born to tell stories,” she said. "We've been doing it all our lives. A joke is a story. A dream is a story."

ELL 'International Cafe' highlighted in Courier-Journal

20150409-ellcafeThe Family Resource Center at La Grange Elementary has been hosting International Café events for the past year. Every six weeks, parents share a lunch — often tamales and other ethnic dishes — and discuss what their children are working on in class and other topics of interest to them.

"I think all parents want to be involved in their children's education and those events at La Grange have been greatly successful in providing a welcoming situation for parents," said Alec Johnson, director of English Language Learners for Oldham County Schools.

But for the first time in three or four years, La Grange Elementary — which Johnson said has more English Language Learners than any other school in the district — hosted a larger event, a colorful celebration of cultures aimed at encouraging literacy and bridging cultural gaps between the school and international families.

Friday's International Cafe included dinner and performances of songs and traditional folkloric dance.

Rose Sanchez Mazar, an English Language Learners teacher at La Grange Elementary School, called the most recent International Cafe the "culminating" event of the year. In an email, she said the school plans for it to be an annual event.

Mazar said in certain cultural backgrounds, there is a distance between the schools and families of students enrolled in English-language classes.

"We are trying to connect with our families to be able to provide a better education for their children and support them in actively participating in the American culture," she said.

Of the roughly 12,000 students attending Oldham County Schools, about 280 are English Language Learners, Johnson said.

Most of the students are Spanish speakers, he said, but there are about 40 different native languages spoken within the district.

— Kirsten Clark, The Courier-Journal. Photo by William DeShazer, The Courier-Journal.



Oldham County Schools
2015 High School Graduation Dates

Buckner Alternative High School

Friday, June 12, 2015 at 7:00 P.M.
Oldham County Arts Center

South Oldham High School 

Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 11:00 A.M.
Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center - Broadbent Arena 

Oldham County High School

Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 2:30 P.M.
Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center - Broadbent Arena

North Oldham High School

Saturday, June 13, 2015 at 6:00 P.M.
Kentucky Fair & Exposition Center - Broadbent Arena

Project Graduation 2015 (for ALL Graduating Seniors)
DATE: Saturday, June 13 2015    |     LOCATION: SOHS


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