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Posts Tagged ‘Columbia’

As most Columbia residents have heard by now, IBM is planning to move to Columbia. This is big news for most people in the city. It is expected to bring new jobs, new salaries, new diversity of businesses.

It could also mean new revenue for the Columbia Public Schools. Here is an article I wrote about what $4.3 million over 10 years could mean for the school district.

Read it here or (http://www.columbiamissourian.com/stories/2010/05/24/ibm-could-bring-43-million-school-district-slow-cuts/).

What do you think IBM’s possible presence in Columbia could mean for CPS?

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CORRECTION: I originally wrote “Dan Holt” won, which is wrong. I apologize, it was a long night. It is now corrected.

Jan Mees, James Whitt and Jonathan Sessions won the seats for Columbia School Board.

For the results of the election, go to the Missourian’s interactive graphic.

Read our story about the school board election.

Read Kourtney Geers’ story about the bond issue vote.

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Dan Holt’s Watch Party

11:42 p.m. Doug Davis: About 9:30 p.m., School Board candidate Dan Holt looked at the TV in the corner of the Heidelberg’s rooftop patio. Down by about 2,000 votes with 69% of precincts reporting, he said, “I’m conceding.” It was the finish of his second campaign for school board in the last calendar year.

Earlier, I asked Holt how the final days of the campaign had shaped up. He said, “I’ve been very busy on phone calls and e-mail the last 10 days. It’s (voter interest) been building.”

I spoke to Kevin Ventrillo, Holt’s campaign manager, who said the campaign had been distributing door hangers constantly over the last two weeks. Aside from the door hangers, he said the campaign depended on word of mouth and radio to a lesser extent.

When initial election results appeared, Mees had 550 votes, Whitt had about 330, and Holt had 250. I asked Holt for his reaction. He said he thought the race would come down to he and James Whitt competing for the remaining seat as he expected Jan Mees to retain her seat. He said, “I thought Jan would carry her weight. She’s a known quantity. She’s presented herself well.”

Holt’s campaign treasurer, John Karle, said that the merit pay issue, which Holt alone favored (of the school board candidates), was the one thing that concerned him. He felt that people might dismiss it without understanding exactly why and under what conditions Holt favored it.

Holt summed up how he felt about conceding – “You do what all candidates do; try to make your views known and inform the voters of your direction. When you get to the end, it’s up in the air.”

He said after running two campaigns in less than one year, he was going to take his time before deciding what to do about future elected positions. He said, “I feel like I made a difference both times I ran, framing issues in front of the voters.” (more…)

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It was a busy day for me Thursday, starting with the school board meeting and ending with Jonathan Sessions‘ Campaign Kick-Off. Sessions will be running against Philip G. Peters Jr. for the 1-year term membership and his journey to election began Thursday night.

PS Gallery on Broadway was packed with local art and local supporters within a half-hour of the 6:30 p.m. start time. It was clear upon entering the room that Sessions is no ordinary candidate. Through a crowd of 20-something supporters, you’ll find Sessions, an MU and Hickman High School graduate, who is looking to represent his hometown at 27 years old.  However, Sessions and his supporters are seeing his age as an advantage.

Dolores Hemphill, a friend of Sessions, spoke at the event.

“I believe his age places him in a unique position,” she said.

Much to Sessions’ surprise, he had those exact words written in his speech as well. Unlike other candidates, Sessions believes his time spent in Columbia Public Schools as a student gives him a “fresh and informed perspective.”

I was able to talk to some of his friends and co-workers who were in attendance. A former classmate and now co-worker, Stephen Griffard, thought it made sense that Sessions was running. “He stretches himself to the max,” Griffard said.

Jack Clark works on the Comprehensive Plan Task Force alongside Sessions. Clark has a grandchild that will be entering the Columbia School District soon.

“It’s wonderful to have a young person involved in making Columbia a better place, especially for kids,” Clark said.

I even met Sessions’ grandmother. She grabbed my hand and looked at me with pride only a grandmother could have. She said that she was extremely proud and happy to be at the event supporting her grandson.

Sessions was all smiles throughout the night, announcing 47 more days until the election. “The average voter isn’t from my generation,” he said as he pointed to voter registration forms. “I need your help to win.”

Look for more candidate coverage on ColumbiaMissourian.com as well as at Jonathan Sessions’ profile that will run next month.

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My night was filled with laughter, curiosity and the scent of incredible appetizers brought from kitchens across Columbia. The Columbia School Board candidates seemed to enjoy it, too.

I just got back from the Progressive Women of Mid-Missouri Spring Social, an event encompassing a house full of women and candidates running for mayor, treasurer, the Fourth ward council seat, presiding commissioner and, of course, Columbia School Board.

President Jan Mees and James Whitt, both running for three-year terms were, were in attendance, as well as Jonathan Sessions and Philip Peters Jr., who are running for one-year terms. Dan Holt was unable to attend.  The candidates stood holding signs with their names on them, laughing and, sometimes, blocking their opponent with them. The room couldn’t help but laugh along.

I had a chance to talk to each of them and introduce myself for the first time. I have to say, they were all playful and talkative eager to answer a house full of questions and concerns.

Johanna Cox-Littrell held the event at her home with the help of her co-host Sarah Catlin-Dupuy. The Progressive Women of Mid-Missouri began in 2005, and Cox-Littrell joined two years ago, before she even moved into the home I spoke to her in.  She was visiting Columbia to house-shop and discovered the group.

“I knew I was part of it from then on,” she said.

The group works to inform women about candidates running for office. Any progressive woman can join the group and attend the socials that occur once a year. There are no meetings, membership, dues or fees, just a couple fun nights where the women can meet like-minded women.

“We know everyone has a million things to do,” Cox-Littrell said, laughing.

Kristin Metcalf-Wilson spoke for the Women’s Policy Alliance, a non-profit group that provides policy makers with information promoting opportunities for women and equality. She described the event as being “fabulous to see activists together for a good cause.”

It was an evening that had a feeling of warmth despite the frigid air outside and hopefully one of many enjoyable events alongside our possible Columbia School Board members.

For future forums, debates and candidate information check out ColumbiaMissourian.com

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Superintendent of Columbia Public Schools Chris Belcher told KBIA radio listeners Monday afternoon that because it is hard to find teachers with the credentials to teach advanced placement courses, more online classes will be offered in Columbia High Schools over the next few years to expand students’ curriculum opportunities.

Superintendents from Columbia, Southern Boone County, and Jefferson City public schools stopped by KBIA’s new noon show “Intersection” and discussed current topics circulating in their districts.

Charlotte Miller, Superintendent for Southern Boone County said, their district cannot offer a lot of advanced placement courses, but with online courses there are more opportunities for students to take those classes.

The range of electives you offer can expand, Belcher noted.

Belcher said, While online courses can help meet students’ needs, the students have to be self-directed learners. Research shows that online classes are more rigorous.

Some classes make sense to take online, Belcher said, and some do not make sense.

The idea behind web-based learning is expanding, the superintendents discussed.

Students today were born into technology, said Belcher.

The whole world is becoming web-based and school is no different, said Brian Mitchell, superintendent for Jefferson City. “We have to be very cognizant, and there has to be an availability and an adequacy of technology. There are a lot of technology issues that are going to have to be worked out.”

All three superintendents were in agreement that nothing replaces the impact of a classroom teacher.

The relationship a student has with a teacher cannot be replaced by online courses; however, online courses can be still be effective, said Miller.

For some students, online courses can help enhance curriculum, but they do not take the place of classroom learning, Miller said.

So what do you think? Are online classes the way education should be taught in the future? Do you think it is more effective or less effective than classroom teachers? Should it be reserved for certain age groups or certain classes?

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When Chad Hill was awarded “Outstanding Educator of the Year” by Columbia Public Schools last April, he was more than surprised.

Hill, a first-grade teacher at Parkade Elementary School, said he didn’t think he had a shot at winning. The award is given to a Columbia teacher in each level of education – primary, junior high/middle school and high school. Hill won the primary level award.

“The school nominated me so I knew I was in the competition, but I didn’t think I had a good chance,” he said.

As part of the honor, Hill received $1,200, money provided by the Columbia Fund for Academic Excellence. Since 1978, the fund has received donations from community organizations, businesses and individuals wishing to contribute to excellence in education.

Hill said Parkade principal Amy Watkins and other staff members came into his classroom with flowers and cameras to announce his selection. Hill’s students were elated.

“They were very excited, jumping up and down and cheering,” Hill said.

Prior to working for Parkade, Hill worked with fifth-grade students in Kelseyville, CA. He said the difference between teaching first and fifth grade students is a big one.

“By the time students are in fifth grade they’ve already developed bad habits,” he said. “But first graders you can impact in a hurry and make quick changes.”

Hill said the day-to-day interaction with his students is the most rewarding aspect of his job. He said he loves making a difference in their lives and wants to continue to do so in the future.

“I’ve always been told I should go into administration, but my primary goal is to interact with kids,” he said. “Getting put in a box with paperwork makes you lose that interaction.”

He said Columbia Public Schools does a great job making the educational process a good one for its students.

“It’s important that we continue to build a bridge with the parents and get them involved with what happens every day,” he said.

One way Parkade specifically has done this is by starting a new program called WATCH D.O.G.S. (Dads of Great Students). The program seeks to involve fathers in education by having them patrol the hallways during class time and spending time with their children during recess, Hill said.

Hill, whose wife is also a teacher, said he enjoys biking in his spare time.

“One of the draws of Columbia are all the bike trails and I like to take my eight-year-old son out on those,” he said.

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Lange Middle School collected 525 hats and mittens for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Missouri this week.

The school sponsored the hat and mitten drive to help the “Little” Brothers and Sisters.

“They (Big Brothers Big Sisters) do so much for our school,” said Lange Middle School’s print secretary Jenny Maddox. “They make a difference and we wanted to give back.”

Mary Sloan, community relations director of Big Brothers Big Sisters, said the organization doesn’t normally get involved with charity drives for its Littles but Lange Middle School wanted to do it.

Students who donated items were entered into a drawing for a chance to present all of the donations on Wednesday, Dec. 17 at 9:30 a.m. at Big Brothers Big Sisters office, 800 N. Providence Rd.

Big Brothers Big Sisters is planning to give the hats and mittens to its’ Littles.

(more…)

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