Stacey L. Cooper
Special to the Bonanza

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December 11, 2012
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A global reach: Incline High bringing world connections to the classroom

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. - On Tuesday, Nov. 27, Mrs. Beth Gebhardt's and Mr. Tom Canino's English classes were exposed to something new: a Cisco Distance Learning Lab.

Students from both English classes had the opportunity to engage in an interactive class with eight other schools nation-wide, including Lorain County School District (Ohio), Cincinnati Public Schools (Ohio), Hollywood Public Schools (Florida), Houston Public Schools (Texas), and Crystal Falls School District (Montana).

Incline students interviewed Thomas Lee Mack, a pro football Hall of Famer who was the Rams' first round draft pick and second player overall in the 1966 NFL draft who earned a starting role as a rookie and played left guard for 13 seasons. Mack never missed a game during 184-game career, and was named to 11 Pro Bowls. Incline students were among several schools nationwide to interview Mack ... and their questions impressed him.

It was not the athletic career of Mack that sparked the interest of our Incline youth for this interactive interview, but rather his leadership, integrity and educational philosophy.

"He graduated from Michigan in Engineering, and went on to become a successful man outside of athletics," stated Kelly Kempler.

"It was pretty cool," added Fernando Martinez. "He (Mack) actually wondered if playing football was keeping him from being the best he could be in his academic career."

The Cisco Distance Learning lab bridges opportunities for staff and students to connect globally to classrooms. This phenomenal opportunity was a direct result of a grant received by Washoe County School District for the purpose of bridging global, classroom connections and staff development opportunities. Incline High School is one of two high schools in Washoe County to receive this opportunity.

The Cisco lab doesn't only serve to benefit students, but also provides professional development support for our staff. Mr. Aaron Parsons, AVID instructor for IHS, utilized the equipment to lead a seminar for the district without the burden of traveling down the mountain during the winter months.

"I felt like a neophyte when I first encountered the equipment, but then quickly realized how simple, and fun it is to use," exclaimed Parsons, who worked collaboratively with Sparks High School AVID instructor Lynn Giomi to present cooperatively from two different locations at the same time.

Scott Bailey, Chief Academic Officer for WCSD, led the initiative to apply for this grant.

"The 21st century calls for increased emphasis on collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity," Bailey said. "The Washoe County School District's point-to-point telepresence initiative serves as a complement to these skills, and the overall strategic plan in preparing students for college and career. The initiative is being funded by an education technology grant, awarded by the Nevada State Educational Commission."

This distance learning lab is just one aspect of Incline High School's effort to expand and improve the technology in the classrooms. As part of our goal, IHS is working with the Boosters Club and local entities to build funding opportunities to support 21st Century technology.

If you are interested in learning more or contributing to the technology goals of the school, call the school at 775-832-4260.

- Stacey L. Cooper is principal at Incline High School.

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Tahoe Daily Tribune Updated Dec 11, 2012 08:40PM Published Dec 11, 2012 08:39PM Copyright 2012 Tahoe Daily Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.