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Myers Elementary earns recognition

Documentary by George Lucas foundation to feature school

BELLWOOD — Bellwood-Antis School District’s Myers Elementary School is getting national recognition.

Edutopia, part of the George Lucas Educational Foundation, plans to produce a 45-minute documentary on the school’s successful implementation of The Modern Classrooms Project.

“This will put our district on the map. It is great exposure for our teachers and students,” said Jamie L. Forshey, Bellwood-Antis’ director of instructional technology. “Our district could get a lot of mileage from this. A lot of people could reach out to what we are doing.”

“This is something we should be very proud of,” school board member Timothy Mallon said.

The George Lucas Foundation — founded by the award-winning filmmaker — is dedicated to transforming K-12 education so that all students can acquire and effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to thrive in their studies, careers and adult lives. The foundation takes a strategic approach to improve K-12 education through two distinct areas of focus: Edutopia and Lucas Education Research, according to the Edutopia website.

Bellwood-Antis established a partnership with The Modern Classrooms Project in September 2019.

The Modern Classrooms Project aims to empower educators to build classrooms that respond to every student’s needs. It leads a movement of educators in implementing a self-paced, mastery-based instructional model that leverages technology to foster human connection, authentic learning, and social-emotional growth, according to Kareem Farah, co-founder and CEO of The Modern Classrooms Project.

When asked to include elementary teachers in the initial professional learning sessions held at B-A, Farah was very skeptical that the blended learning instructional model could be implemented at that level, Forshey said.

“I convinced him otherwise, and so the adventure began,” Forshey said. “Teachers at Myers were not only the first to incorporate the strategies with K-4 students, but have done so at a very impressive level. Several B-A educators have been featured in podcasts, webinars, articles and research studies to discuss our successful implementation story with others.”

Forshey said due to the high level of success at Myers, Farah pitched their story to Edutopia. After a very extensive vetting process, the editors and film directors decided to pursue the production of a documentary featuring teachers and students.

Farah said he is thrilled about the opportunity.

“I still remember making my way out to Myers Elementary to train the first cohort of teachers looking to innovate with our approach at The Modern Classrooms Project two years ago,” Farah said. “They have done an extraordinary job building innovative, student-centered classrooms and deserve to be spotlighted for their great work.”

Edutopia officials will visit the school Monday for further development of the storyline for the video, with filming of the documentary planned for the fall. The tentative release of the documentary is set for December, Forshey said.

“They want to look at the building and meet with our teachers. They will bring the entire production team in the fall. They are real excited to come here,” Forshey said.

Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 814-946-7467.

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