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Shale academy obtains grant

GRANT GIVEN — The Jefferson County Educational Service Center awarded a $600 Best Practice Grant to the Utica Shale Academy to acquire upgraded calculators for students in the community school. On hand for the presentation were were USA Executive Director Bill Watson, executive director at the academy, left, and Chuck Kokiko, JCESC superintendent. -- Contributed

SALINEVILLE — Utica Shale Academy students have new tools thanks to a $600 Best Practice Grant.

Executive Director Bill Watson obtained the mini-grant through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center and a check was presented during the regular academy board meeting on Nov. 13. A total of 22 grants were awarded to seven school districts, a vocational school and a community school during the 2019-20 academic year and JCESC Superintendent Chuck Kokiko made the latest presentation, discussing the community school’s work to prepare students for the real world.

Watson said the funds will be used to acquire 12 new TI-85 graphing calculators to assist approximately 70 students with their math work. The project will assist in updating the site with current technology and provide guidance for students to become more proficient with content.

“The current calculators will only allow students to plot one point,” he said. “By using the calculators, students will develop a stronger understanding of graphing and plotting multiple points. This will create an ideal visual and an ability to distinguish between graphs and functions.”

Watson added that students currently borrow calculators from Southern Local High School, where the shale academy is primarily housed, and the equipment would help prepare for end-of-year testing. The community school has obtained grants in the past and he was grateful for the most recent allocation.

“It’s always nice to have opportunities and this grant is obviously giving our students a lot of opportunities,” he added.

The academy includes 67 pupils at Southern Local and the satellite location at Columbiana High School. Now in its sixth year, the community school is sponsored by JCESC and serves grades 7-12 with a state-required curriculum which includes a customizable digital program, flexible scheduling and safety certification courses. Graduates earn a high school diploma, certificates and college credit options offered through Eastern Gateway Community College.

The education service center has been awarding the grants for more than three decades to benefit education at Buckeye Local, Edison Local, Harrison Hills City, Indian Creek Local, Southern Local, Steubenville City and Toronto City Schools as well as Jefferson County Joint Vocational School and the Utica Shale Academy, while an estimated $106,500 has been disbursed during the past 12 years.

“The Jefferson County Educational Service Center Board governs with a belief of making decisions that are beneficial to our students. Most of those decisions are impactful at the district level,” said Kokiko. “The grant program provides an opportunity to directly assist teachers and students in the classroom. JCESC is grateful to the teachers who apply for the grants and we look forward to funding innovative instructional practices in the classroom each year.”

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