E-books also debut at EHS Krouse introduced as new community relations director

By on August 28, 2013


GARY P. KLINGER Review Correspondent klingerglobal@gmail.com

, Staff Writer

Gina Krouse is the new Community Relations and Foundation Coordinator at Ephrata Area School District.

Some Ephrata High School Algebra II students will be among the first in the district to pilot a new trend – electronic textbooks loaded onto iPads.

Schools are finding that the benefits of transitioning from a traditional printed text to an electronic version are significant and Ephrata is no different.

Beginning this fall, two sections of high school Algebra II classes will be issued iPads with the new textbook already loaded onto it. This will affect about 50 students.

District Superintendent Dr. Brian Troop demonstrated the new technology and textbook at EASD’s Aug. 19 School Board meeting.

Unlike a traditional textbook, the electronic format is highly interactive. Not only does it give the student the ability to highlight text (something frowned upon with traditional books), it allows students to conduct interactive topic searches and even take notes within it. The Algebra 2 text demonstrated included interactive tests, quizzes and graphics. Audio and video content can also be integrated to help students learn in a whole new manner.

"What this does is it shortens the gap between students grasping a concept and actually mastering it," said Troop, who taught middle school math prior to becoming an administrator.

Teachers will also be able to plug their textbooks into the multi-media systems for use on classroom Smart Boards. While the technology does not allow the bridge between interaction on the Smart Board and the actual iPad, it is believed that ability isn’t too far off.

One significant benefit of an electronic textbook is shelf life. Paper copies of the text currently being used by other sections of Algebra 2 classes cost approximately $85 per book and last about 10 years. With an electronic book, updates, improvements and revisions can be automatically downloaded on a continual basis so students are using the best and most current version of the text.

"For now, this is a pilot program," explained Troop. "We have a teacher who is very skilled in technology who is going to use it. We are very excited to see it happen."

Troop pointed out that as a pilot program, district leaders will be keenly interested in how this technology can be implemented not only for Algebra 2 students but on a broader basis.

"We will work through solutions to problems as they arise," said Troop. "We intend to survey both parents and students on usage so that we can fully weigh the pros and cons. We want to know what was helpful and valuable and what was not. And, we will also be looking at test scores. If this does not engage in better scores we will want to take that into consideration as well."

According to Troop, Ephrata is not alone in the effort to move away from paper text books to this new electronic media. And at a cost of $15 per licensed copy, the savings help offset the initial investment in e-readers.

"Some books are free, but with less bells and whistles," Troop pointed out when pressed about potential cost savings by board member Jenny Miller. "We also want to see what other districts need to do to support such a program. We will be looking at cost effectiveness and we will want to see if the teachers are on board with this. Other districts are on a three- to five-year program to eliminate text books."

As with traditional text books, students will be allowed to take the iPads home with them. But as Troop pointed out, there will be additional forms for parents to sign assuming responsibility for the device.

"And at any point a student wants to opt out of this format, they can opt into the traditional format," added Troop.

In his first official report to the school board since becoming District superintendent July 1, Troop mentioned that this is an exciting time around the district.

"We have new staff coming in and getting their classrooms acclimated," stated Troop. "We also have new administrative staff and some new security measures in place at the high school and middle school. We have spent the summer sprucing up all the buildings."

Troop also pointed out that technologically, Ephrata schools are top notch. He cited the buildings are now equipped with Wi-Fi internet access and the number of classrooms now equipped with Smart Boards in place of the traditional chalk boards.

In other news, the district introduced Gina Krouse as its new community relations and foundation coordinator.

"Ephrata Area School District is comprised of eight schools including a virtual academy," the administration stated in a press release. "Part of the role as community relations coordinator is to be the liaison between the (district) and the local community, handling public affairs and media releases. (Krouse) will also be coordinating the internal communications among staff members to help keep them aligned in achieving their united mission."

Krouse is a graduate of Millersville University, with a bachelor of science degree in business marketing and communications broadcasting. She came from Garden Spot Middle School with additional workplace experience as an account executive at FM97 WLAN and WARM 103 and director of marketing and special events at Accolade Management.

"I feel as though my career path has come full circle. It has united two of my passions -helping the local community and helping students achieve their highest potential," stated Krouse. "I am impressed with the leadership and actions of the Ephrata Area School District and am honored to be a member of the team. The district is on an exciting educational journey that includes applying well-researched innovative ideas to improve the educational outcomes for all students."

Many of those innovative projects are initially launched by the financial support of the Ephrata Area Education Foundation. Krouse’s additional role with the District is to support the foundation as its coordinator. She will be involved with the community outreach events that raise money and awareness for the non-profit organization. She will also be helping the teachers pursue their wishes for the students through assistance in the grant process.

"It is a privilege to be able to continue building a partnership between the staff, students, and community that together make the students of the Ephrata Area School District successful," she added.

More EASD, page A15

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