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Grant to provide high-tech tools

SALINEVILLE — A $600 mini-grant through the Jefferson County Educational Service Center will help dozens of Utica Shale Academy students improve their math skills by using some high-tech learning tools.

Superintendent Bill Watson received JCESC’s 2020-21 Best Practice Grant during the regular USA Board of Directors meeting on Tuesday. Watson said the funds will help obtain online initiative-surface tablets for 70 students in grades 9-12 who are receiving math intervention. He purchased two Microsoft Surface 2 devices that allow staff to write on the tablets and project onto smart TVs. The equipment will assist in social distancing measures amid COVID-19 and will be beneficial should the school go fully remote, and he said the items will be influential in breaking down the math curriculum. The shale academy has received mini-grants in the past for learning tools and Watson was pleased to see students benefit yet again.

“We utilized the grant in the past to purchase calculators,” he said. “I am very grateful. We are going to purchase Microsoft Surface Gos for staff to make videos, so if we go remote we will be ready, and if we don’t will have a good tool for students to relearn skills.”

Now in its seventh year, the Utica Shale Academy operates at Southern Local High School and provides a state-required curriculum with 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 site also partners with the New Castle School of Trades in East Liverpool and offers welding and industrial maintenance training for students.

Meanwhile, JCESC Superintendent Chuck Kokiko applauded Watson and other grant recipients as they strive to educate students during the coronavirus outbreak.

“The 2020-21 school year has brought new challenges for classroom teachers given the current pandemic. JCESC is pleased to have the funding for continued support of the Best Practice Grants,” said Kokiko. “Many teachers are looking for new resources to meet the unique needs of this school year while others are simply searching for funds to support innovative instructional practices. In either case, JCESC congratulates all of our winners and wish them continued success as they work to provide the finest education to their students.”

JCESC has been awarding Best Practice Grants 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 the Utica Shale Academy.

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