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  • 1. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)<br />June 14, 2000, Wednesday, SOONER EDITION<br />'GENIUS' AWARD WINNER OFF TO NEW DIGS<br />BYLINE: RHONDA MILLER, POST-GAZETTE STAFF WRITER<br />SECTION: LOCAL, Pg. A-1<br />LENGTH: 1169 words<br /> Christopher Beard leaves for Tibet tomorrow to do exactly the sort of thing that just won him a $500,000 MacArthur fellowship: search for fossils.<br />quot; We're going where no one has looked for fossils before,quot; said Beard, associate curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History. quot; It's remote and logistically difficult to work there.quot; <br />Beard got a phone call from Daniel Socolow, director of the MacArthur Fellows program, last Thursday telling him he'd been chosen for the fellowship. <br />quot; I was stunned, amazed, honored and humbled,quot; said Beard. quot; It feels great to have my work validated, yet I know there are so many scientists and people in other fields who are also doing outstanding work and are very deserving.quot; <br />Beard was one of 25 winners of this year's so-called quot; genius grants.quot; The academics, artists, activists and scientists chosen by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation will each receive the money in no-strings-attached funding over the next five years.<br />A secret process is used to determine the MacArthur grant winners. Recipients cannot apply, but rather are selected by hundreds of anonymous nominators. A 13-member selection committee, also anonymous, then makes recommendations to the foundation's board, which makes the final picks.<br />Deborah Willis, curator of exhibitions for the Center for African-American History and Culture and the Anacostia Museum at the Smithsonian Institution, said she was shocked by her selection.<br />quot; I've worked in isolation for so long,quot; she said. quot; I never really realized that somebody was taking note of it.quot; Other winners include Ben Katchor, a 48-year-old New York cartoonist who draws a weekly strip on urban life called quot; Hotel & Farm,quot; and Cecilia Munoz, a 37-year-old vice president with the National Council of La Raza, a Hispanic civil rights organization.<br />Beard's scientific career is built on digging into new and challenging territory.<br />The 38-year-old resident of Mars won the prestigious fellowship for his work in China, highlighted by his 1995 discovery of the jaw of a 40 million-year-old species of monkey.<br />He named it quot; Eosimias,quot; which is Latin and Greek for quot; dawn monkey.quot; <br />The 1-inch-long jaw of the 4-ounce monkey was found lodged inside a boulder that was split open by a Chinese peasant trained to assist on the expedition.<br />The discovery was important for two reasons. Previously, the oldest similar fossil was 34 million years old. And Beard's discovery was in Asia, while previous ones had been in Africa.<br />Beard earned a bachelor's degree in zoology and anthropology from the University of North Carolina in 1984 and a doctorate in anatomy from Johns Hopkins University in 1989. He then came to work at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History.<br />He credits Mary Dawson, the museum's curator of vertebrate paleontology, for breaking ground in establishing relationships with Chinese scientists in the late 1970s.<br />Those solid relationships built trust and paved the way for cooperative ventures, said Beard.<br />The personal connections, cemented by annual expeditions to China by Beard and other Carnegie researchers, provided access to new and fertile scientific territory.<br />Beard, who has spent two months in China every year since 1992, is conversant in Mandarin.<br />The project that won him the MacArthur recognition began on the banks of the Yellow River in central China in 1994. As the Chinese government began long-term planning to build hydroelectric dams, it opened the Yellow River area to scientists.<br />quot; The dams will cause a lot of archaeological sites to be flooded,quot; said Beard. quot; In collaboration with Chinese scientists, we were allowed to come in and rescue as many fossils as possible.quot; <br />The discovery of the Eosimias fossil quot; was amazing because it was the complete lower jaw with all the teeth,quot; said Beard. Half the jaw was found in each side of the split boulder.<br />That fossil is in Beijing. But a similar one, nearly as perfect, is in the permanent collection at the Carnegie Museum.<br />As the $ 500,000 award is paid at the rate of $ 100,000 per year, with no strings attached, Beard will continue what he has been doing, only more.<br />He will keep the job he was trained for and loves at the Carnegie Museum.<br />He plans to buy a new sport utility vehicle to complement the museum's vehicles and allow additional exploration on a project in the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming. Beard also wants to plan a four-month collaborative project with scientist Marc Godinot of Paris, whom he met and worked with at Johns Hopkins. Godinot found fossils in western Europe similar to the ones discovered by Beard in China.<br />Beard said the MacArthur award will give him the opportunity with Godinot to research how and when these fossils got from one region to the other. The fossils are extinct relatives of living lemurs, monkey-like animals, some of which are currently in the Pittsburgh Zoo.<br />Part of the reason for the award, he believes, is recognition of the scientific research done by the Carnegie Museum, one of a handful of public museums in the United States conducting scientific research. Beard names the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., the American Museum of Natural History in New York and the Field Museum in Chicago among the others.<br />Beard said that although his work reaches back through many millions of years, it is relevant today.<br />For one thing, the fossil he discovered is similar to the smallest living monkey that exists today, the pygmy marmoset in Brazil.<br />quot; When you're a paleontologist, your timeline is different,quot; said Beard. quot; You just add lots of zeros. These discoveries can help people rethink how the ancient family tree looked. It makes us think about the most important philosophical questions, like 'Who are we?' and 'Why are we here?' quot; <br />Looking back to ancient species can help people today see how we fit into life on Earth, said Beard.<br />quot; We can understand how life evolved on Earth and about life that exists today. There are still species today, like some butterflies and ants, that have not even been given a name yet.<br />quot; There is still plenty of exploration that can lead to new and interesting information. This kind of scientific data can help us decide how we are going to manage the planet we live on,quot; Beard said.<br />Dr. Jonas Salk, the former Pittsburgher who developed the polio vaccine here, was one of the four founders of the MacArthur Fellowships. Since the program began in 1981, several winners with ties to Pittsburgh have been named winners, including:<br />* Pamela Samuelson, former University of Pittsburgh law professor, 1997.<br />* William E. Strickland Jr., founder and director of Manchester Craftsmen's Guild, Pittsburgh, 1996.<br />* Susan Werner Kieffer, a native of Warren, Pa., and a graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, a professor of geologic sciences at the University of British Columbia, 1995.<br />* Paul Taylor, founder of Paul Taylor Dance Company and a Pittsburgh native, 1985.<br />LOAD-DATE: June 14, 2000<br />LANGUAGE: ENGLISH<br />GRAPHIC: PHOTO 2, PHOTO: Bill Wade/Post-Gazette: Christopher Beard at home on the; range: Watching a sunset near Bitter Creek, Wyo., during a dig there in 1997.; PHOTO: Christopher Beard<br />Copyright 2000 P.G. Publishing Co.<br />Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)<br />October 22, 2000, Sunday, REGION EDITION<br />BENCHMARKS REGIONS TAKING VARYING PATHS TO EDUCATION REFORM<br />BYLINE: RHONDA MILLER, POST-GAZETTE STAFF WRITER<br />SECTION: BUSINESS, Pg. X-1<br />LENGTH: 2310 words<br />As education reforms swirl across the nation, Pittsburgh and the state are on the front lines of several prominent issues, most notably charter schools and cash rewards for improved test scores. * quot; We're beginning to see, in a pretty traditional state, some dynamic new thinking in education,quot; said Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Eugene Hickok, who has gained prominence as chairman of the Education Leaders Council, a reform-minded group headed by the education chiefs in eight states. * The most visible sign of reform in Pittsburgh and the state is the charter school movement.<br />Charter schools are independent public schools that have wide latitude in developing programs and curriculum. There are 2,000 across the country this year, primarily in cities where they offer an alternative to struggling urban schools.<br />There are 67 charter schools operating in Pennsylvania, serving 22,000 students. The city of Pittsburgh has four -- Manchester Academic, Northside Urban Pathways, Urban League of Pittsburgh and Career Connections. <br />Supporters look at charter schools as the main component of choice, offering innovation and generally encouraging strong parental involvement.<br />Opponents are concerned that funding to charter schools will drain much-needed money from public schools -- an issue highlighted locally in the financially strapped Wilkinsburg School District, where it's feared that the Thurgood Marshall Charter School will add to a budget deficit already projected to be $ 600,000.<br />Pennsylvania is a leader in charter schools because of its strong charter school law, which went into effect in 1997, said Gary Huggins, executive director of the Education Leaders Council, or ELC. The state ranks 11th nationally in the number of charter schools.<br />Several PG Benchmarks cities in ELC states -- Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Texas, Virginia and Pennsylvania -- are showing strong growth in charter schools.<br />Arizona is by far the national leader in the charter school movement.<br />Phoenix has 102 charter schools covering a variety of subjects, including science and technology, gifted education, agribusiness, performing arts and Montessori curriculum. There is even one for pregnant and parenting teens.<br />California ranks second in the nation in number of charter schools, including the 16 in the PG Benchmarks city of San Diego.<br />Florida ranks fifth, including 21 in Miami and 10 in Tampa.<br />In Minnesota, where the charter school movement began nine years ago, 25 charter schools are operating in Greater Minneapolis, including one for deaf students and a dual language academy.<br />Kansas City has 18 percent of its public school students enrolled in charter schools, in part because of the poor condition of the city's public schools.<br />For profit<br />The charter school movement also has provided a new forum for for-profit educational management companies to get involved in local schools.<br />Ten percent of the charter schools nationwide operate on a for-profit basis, according to Dave Deschryver, a research fellow at the Center for Education Reform in Washington, D.C.<br />In Pennsylvania, for-profit companies are allowed to contract with charter schools to operate them, and Hickok would like to see more. quot; We need to rethink the nature of public education,quot; he said. quot; What matters is not who runs the school, but the education that the students get.quot; <br />America's largest for-profit manager of public schools, Edison Schools, operates two schools in Eastern Pennsylvania and opened a charter school in York this fall for 750 students in kindergarten through fifth grade.<br />In all, Edison operates 108 schools in 21 states, including schools in Atlanta, Denver, Kansas City, Milwaukee and Minneapolis.<br />Edison manages the schools through contracts with local school districts and public charter school boards in return for per-pupil funding based on public school allotments.<br />Edison Schools completed its initial public stock offering in November 1999, raising $ 122.4 million.<br />Other for-profit educational companies, such as Mosaica Academy, also are expanding. Mosaica operates four schools in Pennsylvania and plans to open its fifth in the state next fall. None is in the Pittsburgh area.<br />Timothy Potts, director of the Pennsylvania School Reform Network, said his organization quot; has a real problem with for-profit charter schools run by national organizations.quot; Potts said his group favors locally owned and operated charter schools, rather than corporate-owned schools with a quot; cookie-cutter approach.quot; <br />quot; By law, corporations are responsible to their stockholders, not to their customers,quot; Potts said. quot; When push comes to shove, parents and children are second. A corporation's main goal is to make money, not to educate kids.quot; <br />Vouchers<br />Giving public money to attend private or parochial schools, in the form of vouchers, continues to be one of the most hotly debated issues in the nation.<br />Supporters of vouchers, including Republican presidential candidate George Bush, say giving poor families vouchers for private school tuition not only gives the students a better chance to succeed, but also encourages public schools to improve.<br />Democrat Al Gore, meanwhile, has repeatedly said in his campaign that vouchers will drain needed resources from public schools.<br />quot; Vouchers can be life preservers for failing districts,quot; Deschryver said. quot; But they are not a stand-alone solution. We have to question their impact.quot; <br />A hotly debated initiative of Republican Gov. Tom Ridge, vouchers are dead in Pennsylvania for the moment. The push for vouchers was dropped for lack of adequate legislative support. But for education secretary Hickok, a resurrection of the voucher issue would be welcome.<br />quot; I think it's only a matter of time before school choice in the fullest form becomes part of the national landscape of education,quot; said Hickok, referring to the inclusion of vouchers. quot; I hope that it becomes part of the landscape soon in Pennsylvania. When we feel we've got the momentum and votes, we will try to bring vouchers up again.quot; <br />Cleveland launched a voucher program in 1996 when it offered 2,000 scholarships to low-income, inner-city families to send their children to participating public, private or parochial schools. Milwaukee instituted a voucher program in 1991.<br />While there have been some studies on the Cleveland and Milwaukee voucher programs, results have been debatable. There are varying opinions whether and why there has been student improvement, depending on who finances and interprets the studies.<br />Florida enacted a voucher law in June 1999 that allows only students who attend a school designated quot; failingquot; to qualify for vouchers. However, the state-instituted A-F grading system of schools, which is needed to qualify for vouchers, has itself created a dispute.<br />Vouchers are a sizzling topic in California, where a proposition that would offer a $ 4,000 voucher is on the state ballot for November. The results of the referendum will play a role in the educational options in the Benchmarks city of San Diego.<br />As for another hot reform issue, the development of academic standards, Pennsylvania is about in the quot; middle of the pack,quot; said Potts of the Pennsylvania School Reform Network.<br />Academic standards in reading, writing and math are being put into place in schools across the state. Standards for other subjects, including science and technology, environment and ecology, civics and government, economics, geography, and arts and humanities, are being developed.<br />It is not the curriculum standards that are controversial; there's been substantial public input on choosing them. It is the testing on these standards, including how each district develops and interprets its tests, that brings the debates, said Potts.<br />Pay for performance<br />Cincinnati broke new ground last month with its approval of the first plan in a U.S. public school district to base teachers' pay solely on performance. Salaries under the new plan, which will begin to affect paychecks in two years, will be based on a review of individual teaching skills, not seniority or student test scores.<br />Although the 3,100-member Cincinnati Federation of Teachers, the largest teachers union in the nation, approved the plan by a majority, 1,000 teachers voted against it. The kinks must be worked out by May 2002, when the teachers union has the right to call another vote. If 70 percent of the teachers vote against it then, the plan will be dropped.<br />Concerns about the pay for performance plan include whether it will be applied fairly, how teachers with difficult students will be affected and whether busy administrators will have time to conduct adequate reviews.<br />Supporters of the pay for performance plan say it will benefit children by encouraging and rewarding good teachers. If successful, it also would attract top teaching candidates to the struggling Cincinnati school system.<br />To pay for the pay-for-performance plan, Cincinnati Public Schools is seeking a 5-mill, 4-year levy that would generate $ 29.8 million a year. Cincinnati already instituted a school incentive award plan this year that pays teachers $ 1,400 if their school reaches predetermined academic achievement goals.<br />In Montgomery County, a suburban Pennsylvania school district made history by giving cash rewards to its top performing teachers. But teachers in the Colonial School District don't want the money. The teachers said the bonuses of up to $ 2,800 for 10 percent to 20 percent of the staff would pit one teacher against another.<br />The other objection is that the bonus is based on how well students perform on standardized tests, which may not be completely within the teachers' control.<br />The Denver Classroom Teachers Association agreed to a four-year pilot program of performance-based pay. Teachers played a substantial role in shaping the plan, which goes beyond using standardized tests to measure performance.<br />In Pennsylvania, schools that improve each year in two categories, achievement and attendance, are eligible for cash rewards. Achievement will be measured by Pennsylvania System of School Assessment reading and math tests.<br />Attendance rewards will be based on increases in student attendance rates. Through 2001, schools that improve will get a total of $ 74 million in these performance incentive grants.<br />Teacher quality<br />Pennsylvania also recently passed new professional development requirements for teachers. They must complete 180 hours of post-degree instruction every five years. Those hours can be completed in professional development and subject classes, which often are taken in seminars or graduate courses.<br />A new Pennsylvania program, said to be the first of its kind in the country, will allow teachers to complete this training over the Internet. Online courses, in which teachers show what they learned by developing lesson plans, will be free to state teachers.<br />The issue of teacher quality is tied to other reform issues. quot; The question of teacher quality is taking on new dimensions, especially because of charter schools,quot; said Deschryver, of the Center for Education Reform. quot; It is no longer restricted because schools don't have to stay with salary schedules.quot; <br />In Pennsylvania, 75 percent of teachers in a charter school must be certified, so qualifications and salaries can vary, either up or down from past pay schedules. But Potts, of the state reform group, is troubled by the 25 percent of teachers who do not have to be certified.<br />quot; Pennsylvania has to seek treatment for its schizophrenia on teacher quality,quot; he said. quot; On one hand we're raising standards for teachers and on the other we have 25 percent of teachers in a charter school who don't need certification. This Jekyll-and-Hyde approach to teacher quality is not a very sound approach.quot; <br />Pennsylvania has an advantage in teacher quality, because it has a large number of colleges that train teachers -- so many that the state has a surplus and exports teachers. The Pittsburgh area schools -- urban, suburban and rural -- reap the benefit of this with a choice of top quality teachers.<br />Putting professionals into the classroom who are not certified in education is a reform issue under heavy debate across the nation. Bringing in specialists in subjects is seen as a way to alleviate teacher shortages, especially in areas such as science.<br />Other reform issues confronting Pittsburgh and the state:<br />* Smaller, more personal schools. The move to personalize high schools, create smaller groups within a school, and create a strong and close relationship with at least one adult in school is being pushed by Educators for Social Responsibility, a Cambridge, Mass., nonprofit organization. Its major thrust is quot; to teach conflict resolution in order to create caring and peaceable communities of learning,quot; said Larry Dieringer, its executive director. Pennsylvania, according to Potts, quot; is bringing up the rearquot; on this movement.<br />* Year-round school. This is an issue that makes most students, and some parents, groan. What about that dearly held tradition of summer vacation? Although there is no official move toward year-round school in Pennsylvania, education secretary Hickok favors it. quot; I think that school districts should be looking into better use of the calendar.quot; <br />* All-day kindergarten. Across the country, educators and parents are scrutinizing the need for better preschool preparation.<br />* Parental involvement. quot; Parents have to know the district superintendent, who the players are on the school board and the department of education and the financing,quot; said Deschryver. Too often, he said, education quot; is like a computer for many people. They use it because they need it, but they couldn't tell you how it works.quot; <br />LOAD-DATE: October 22, 2000<br />LANGUAGE: ENGLISH<br />Copyright 2000 P.G. Publishing Co.<br />Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)<br />January 14, 2001, Sunday, REGION EDITION<br />CONDUCTIVE EDUCATION HELPS DISABLED STAND TALLER<br />BYLINE: RHONDA MILLER, POST-GAZETTE STAFF WRITER<br />SECTION: MISCELLANEOUS, Pg. C-1<br />LENGTH: 1492 words<br />Muscles, music and motivation<br />Fifteen-year-old Michael Haider sits on a rectangular stool at his desk in math class at Avonworth Junior/Senior High School.<br />So?<br />So, it's a small miracle for a 10th-grade student with cerebral palsy who spent his previous classroom years in a wheelchair. The miracle was hard-won by Haider's work for the past three years with a program developed in Hungary called quot; conductive education.quot; <br />The method uses muscle power, music, group motivation and slatted wooden equipment for intensive training. The goal of conductive education is to lessen the use of wheelchairs and other supports and to increase physical and emotional strength and independence. <br />quot; Once I saw Michael sitting erect at his desk, I was sold,quot; said Stephen Strasser, a psychologist for the Avonworth School District who has worked with Haider since preschool. The district has taken the unusual step of including conductive education in Haider's individualized education program, or IEP, this school year.<br />quot; We're breaking new ground here,quot; said Haider proudly during a recent math class. This class is an instructional support classroom with just a handful of students, which allows the time and space for his stretches on a mat, pulling up on a specially designed ladder and his move to his stool and desk.<br />There are other groundbreaking markers for conductive education in Western Pennsylvania. As of Jan. 1, ARC Allegheny, a nonprofit organization that serves people with disabilities, joined with a parents' organization, Conductive Education of Pittsburgh, to coordinate the local program.<br />That alliance will increase funding options and provide staff to oversee obtaining visas for experienced trainers from Hungary and other administrative matters.<br />A full-time certified specialist in conductive education is expected to be hired by June, said Lynda Wright, an early intervention specialist for ARC Allegheny.<br />Conductive education was developed in 1938 by Andras Peto, a Jewish neurosurgeon who was in hiding during the occupation of Hungary by the Germans during World War II. The family who gave him refuge had a child with cerebral palsy, which inspired him to help her walk and attend school, rather than be placed in an institution.<br />Peto opened the first conductive education institute in Budapest in 1950.<br />Leading the daylong programs, highly trained quot; conductorsquot; work with groups of children. The use of simply designed wooden ladders, stools and a quot; plinthquot; -- a special table with rungs -- fosters grasping, pulling and walking.<br />Music is an important motivational tool. Using rhythms and repetitive verses such as quot; I am standing tallquot; and nursery-style rhymes helps students coordinate mind and body.<br />Parent involvement and group support also are fundamental to the program.<br />By the time Peto died in 1967, his institute in Budapest was solid. Training for quot; conductorsquot; began in Hungarian colleges in 1968. The method gained steadfast followers in England, Wales and Canada, with pockets of parent organizations in the United States.<br />Most U.S. parent groups have had to fund programs themselves because conductive education generally is not covered by insurance.<br />Connie Frierson's son March, 5, who was born two months prematurely and diagnosed with cerebral palsy, had physical therapy beginning at 18 months old.<br />quot; He would be stretched out and would do more for that day and part of the next,quot; said Frierson of Forward Township, Butler County. quot; By the end of the second day his muscles had contracted back to where they were before. ... It was completely inadequate.quot; <br />Neurological researcher Murray Goldstein, who also is director of the United Cerebral Palsy Research & Educational Foundation in Washington, has observed conductive education for the past five years and drawn his own conclusions. And questions. quot; Does it work? Of course it works,quot; said Goldstein.<br />quot; But for whom does it work? No treatment works for everybody, and cerebral palsy is a term for a wide range of disabilities. How long do the results last? Is it worth the effort?quot; <br />Goldstein, who was previously director of the Neurological Institute at the National Institutes of Health for 11 years, said he wants to see scientific studies -- not just the current anecdotal information -- on conductive education.<br />In a recent Australian study, conductive education was compared to the same number of hours of physiotherapy. The results, said Goldstein, were identical. It is the intensive nature of conductive education, several hours a day usually five days a week, that contributes to improvement, said Goldstein, as well as many parents.<br />quot; The future of these children is dependent on getting more information to people,quot; said Goldstein.<br />But anecdotal improvements are persuasive for the families involved in conductive education. One of the initiators of the local group was Tina Calabro of Highland Park, who heard about conductive education when her son, Mark Steidl, now 5, was diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant.<br />Through the Internet, Calabro found a family in Galax, Va., who organized a grass-roots program with conductors trained at the Peto Institute. He took Mark, who was 18 months old, to Virginia for four weeks to take part in the program.<br />quot; I could see that it reflected the best practices in physical and occupation therapy that we were already using,quot; she said. quot; In addition, it encouraged the whole personality.<br />quot; I saw Mark responding so well to the conductors. When they praised him, he smiled and tried harder. He looked a lot more able in these classes than I was used to seeing him at home,quot; said Calabro. There was no huge gain, Calabro said, but quot; he learned to sit up a little straighter and hold on a little better.quot; <br />The region's first summer camp was held in 1998, with a quot; conductorquot; from Hungary and a small group of students, with parents footing the bill.<br />The school district IEP team determines whether the student requires the summer program. The cost of the summer conductive education camp was $ 1,250 per student, primarily funded under the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, said Richard Grubb, coordinator of the extended school year programs.<br />That first summer camp was a turning point for Haider.<br />quot; In conductive education camp I learned the meaning of real work,quot; Haider said. He had to move from a wheelchair to a stool, pull up into standing position, then pull onto a plinth. quot; Then I had to army crawl across the plinth with the wood ripping at my knees,quot; said Haider.<br />There were many other demanding activities, some done to music. quot; I did the same routine three hours a day, for three weeks,quot; he said. quot; I learned that real work is hard, repetitive, grueling and sweaty.quot; <br />Haider's parents, Mary and Herman, persuaded the school district's special education team to hold conductive education sessions through the year so his progress could continue.<br />quot; I support it because it makes sense at multiple levels,quot; said Strasser. quot; Getting Michael to sit erect and have better balance will help him to learn better, because there is a better flow in the spinal column.quot; <br />Conductive education also costs the school district about half as much as the average $ 35 per hour for a physical therapist, said Strasser. Haider has three one-hour sessions per week, two paid for by the district under his special education program, one paid for by his parents.<br />Haider's sessions are led by his school aide, Vickie Shilling, who was trained by Hungarian conductor Andrea Koczan when she was in Pittsburgh in November and December. Koczan, who was trained at the Peto Institute, also worked with families at sessions held at a church on Route 8 in Hampton during her stay.<br />quot; I am standing up tall, standing like a wall,quot; Koczan sang with March Frierson after he walked over ladder rungs, bent down to pick up a ball, threw it and followed paper footsteps around the room at a recent session.<br />quot; After his first conductive education summer camp in 1999, March quot; was so exhausted he didn't want to do anything,quot; said his father. quot; Then, all of a sudden, he started walking slowly and now he's tremendously more independent.quot; <br />Independence is also a major goal for Michael Haider. An honor roll student, he has a sharp wit and an encyclopedic knowledge of the Beatles and the films of Alfred Hitchcock. He is so inspired by Hitchcock's work that he wants to be a film director.<br />By chance, Haider got some film experience in quot; Lorenzo's Oilquot; when he had a nonspeaking role as a double for the boy who starred in the movie with Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte. Much of the movie was filmed at an old school in Ben Avon.<br />quot; Michael is very bright and competent and I'd like to see him be more independent. He plans to go to college,quot; said Strasser.<br />quot; How can you not support Michael's goal of walking across the stage to get his diploma when he graduates?quot; <br />LOAD-DATE: January 14, 2001<br />LANGUAGE: ENGLISH<br />Copyright 2001 P.G. Publishing Co.<br />Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pennsylvania)<br />November 28, 1999, Sunday, WASHINGTON EDITION<br />HIGH-TECH LEARNING: WEST GREENE SCHOOL DISTRICT CHIEF SHEPHERDS A TECHNOLOGY-BASED PROGRAM THAT WILL PREPARE STUDENTS FOR COLLEGE, REGIONAL BUSINESSES AND GLOBAL CONNECTIONS<br />BYLINE: RHONDA MILLER, POST-GAZETTE STAFF WRITER<br />SECTION: METRO, Pg. W-1<br />LENGTH: 1916 words<br />Technology is flowing into Greene County faster than the coal is running out. At least that's what Chuck Rembold hopes is resulting from his intense pursuit of high-tech connections across the nation.<br />Rembold, superintendent of the 1,100-student West Greene School District, is a hearty man with a robust sense of humor and a huge vision.<br />The seed of this vision is West Greene's unassuming, sand-colored brick with blue trim middle school-high school complex, tucked into a hillside west of the hamlet of Rogersville. It is in the 376-student high school wing where the focus of progress is laser sharp. <br />Rembold has dubbed the students quot; change agentsquot; to help create an incubator high-tech community as the region's coal resources become depleted in the next 10 to 20 years. He has galvanized the school board, staff, students and parents to become invested in the creation of a technology-based economy.<br />quot; I think they understand the sense of urgency,quot; Rembold said.<br />quot; We have 60 percent of our residents in West Greene below the poverty line. We're talking second- and third-generation poverty,quot; he said. quot; It's time to break that cycle.quot; <br />Infused with expectation and energy, Rembold envisions students soaking up technological skills, getting a quality college education that begins with a solid foundation in high school, and returning home to revitalize the region.<br />Remote-access technology is the key to the grand plan. It would allow young adults to build businesses and families in primarily rural Greene County, while their skills tap into high-tech networks around the globe.<br />A planned model program for remote access is a West Greene partnership with the R.J. Lee Co., a Monroeville materials analysis firm that, with its manufacturing subsidiary, has developed and manufactures a scanning electron microscope.<br />West Greene teachers not only will have the $ 50,000 to $ 100,000 instruments to use for classes, the company expects to set up a lab at the high school where microscopes can be controlled remotely from Monroeville or client locations.<br />Rembold has been so successful in attracting money, technology resources and business partnerships that he was appointed president of the Greene County Industrial Development Authority in 1995.<br />Although the volunteer post officially requires one monthly board meeting, Rembold works the jobs simultaneously, considering as interdependent the vitality of the school system and the county.<br />The $ 8 million in federal, state and organizational grants that have come into Greene County since Rembold's tenure began in 1993 have fueled the school district's and the county's technological progress.<br />The student-to-computer ratio in West Greene is 3 to 1. A $ 3 million federal Department of Education grant in 1995 was the seed of the advanced technology infrastructure of Greene County.<br />A countywide fiber optics network connects Carmichaels Area, Central Greene, Jefferson-Morgan, Southeastern Greene and West Greene school district and the Greene County Vocational Technical School and Waynesburg College.<br />Through grants and partnerships, the nearly 40,000 people in the county have at their fingertips a scanning electron microscope, moderately fast ISDN capabilities using existing phone lines, broadband fiber optic cable and quot; real timequot; videoconferencing capabilities via leading-edge asynchronous transfer mode technology.<br />Greene County also is actively pursuing becoming part of a technology corridor that goes from Pittsburgh to Clarksburg, W.Va.<br />Administrators are developing programs and technological connections to bring families and other county residents into the loop.<br />quot; A lot of people in our area never graduated from high school,quot; Rembold said. quot; We want them to have a good experience with learning now.quot; <br />The district has 50 computers available for loan to residents, funded by grants.<br />quot; We are going to become our community's Internet service provider for free,quot; said Rembold of the plan that will allow residents to tap in to the network developed mainly through grants and partnerships.<br />There also is talk of quot; learning communities, where a few people gather together and use their living room as a classroom,quot; he said.<br />quot; We are on the cutting edge. We are really pioneers in a 21st century sense,quot; said Brian Jackson, principal of West Greene High School. It is a reference that gives a new meaning to the school's mascot, the Pioneers. A jump start on college<br />To ensure that students have access to a good college education, several West Greene High School teachers have been certified as adjunct professors by the University of Pittsburgh and California University of Pennsylvania.<br />Students can begin college-level courses as early as 10th grade, with the potential to earn up to 45 college credits by graduation. Although the three-credit University of Pittsburgh courses cost $ 90 and the California University courses cost $ 75, much less than on campus, the benefits are more than monetary.<br />quot; It shows rural kids that they can succeed at the college level,quot; said Jackson, a Green County native and a graduate of West Greene High School.<br />A major focus of the college-level courses is the engineering cluster, created to encourage students to become engineers and return home to lead the new workforce.<br />The few students who have enrolled in the engineering cluster each year take a four-period block five days a week in courses that include calculus, introduction to engineering, physics, networking and Java, a computer language used by engineers.<br />This year's 4 to 1 student-to-teacher ratio in the engineering cluster is more than worth the time and expense allocated to it, said Rembold, who garnered school board support for the program. They are considered the county's future technology leaders.<br />Another goal of the engineering cluster is to give students a realistic idea of what the career is like.<br />quot; Out of three students in my class last year, two went to West Virginia University, one in chemical and one in mechanical engineering,quot; said Sue Simatic, who worked as an engineer for U.S. Steel before teaching math and engineering in the district.<br />quot; The third student went into computer science at Rochester Institute of Technology. It was important for that student to realize that he preferred computer science.<br />quot; I view one purpose of the class as having the students see what is right for them,quot; she said.<br />Other college-level courses offered are communications, an equivalent to freshman English, biology, chemistry, geology and physics, history of western civilization, math, psychology and several computer languages. Working on business sense<br />Education and business awareness are combined in several high school classes to let students experience how the business world works.<br />The high school has a broadcasting studio with up-to-date equipment and students sell advertising time to cover some studio costs.<br />The family and consumer science class has a $ 5,000 computerized sewing machine.<br />It is used for classes and a small student embroidery business that funnels any income back into new software and supplies.<br />Through a state school-to-work grant, art students have an etched- and stained-glass business, selling to local residents and over the Internet. Money earned goes back into supplies.<br />The point is to give students the tools and experience to be successful in the quot; real world,quot; said Rembold. Whole child, whole community<br />quot; Healthy communities build healthy economies,quot; Rembold said.<br />To that end, he has led West Greene administrators in expanding programs to meet the physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs of students.<br />quot; These are all essential for economic development,quot; Rembold said.<br />Students earn credit for a course in peer counseling, generally a volunteer activity at many schools. West Greene has initiated a program called People Using Leadership Skills Effectively, funded by a $ 20,000 safe schools grant.<br />One part of the program is for teachers and students to attend a session to get to know and trust each other.<br />quot; Our discipline problems have been cut in half since we began this program five years ago,quot; Jackson said. quot; It is a way for students to learn how to take positive steps to overcome loneliness, depression or distrust.quot; <br />The second tier of the whole-person perspective reaches to the community.<br />A new fitness center packed with the latest equipment opened at the secondary school in September. Membership is free to district residents and $ 20 per month per individual or $ 30 per family for those outside the district.<br />quot; It's filled up every night,quot; said Jackson.<br />West Greene was awarded a $ 280,000 federal grant in May to become a 21st Century Learning Center, to serve students in fourth to eighth grades.<br />The program, to begin during the summer at the middle school, will offer academic assistance, recreation and snacks. An initiative of President Clinton, it allows schools to expand services, and in many ways, serve as a community center.<br />quot; Some people might not like to admit this, but we used to be regarded as a bottom-of-the-barrel school district,quot; said middle school Principal Thelma Szarell, who has worked in the district for 25 years.<br />quot; Teachers and students held their heads down, embarrassed to be from West Greene. The people who lived and worked here always knew we had potential, good students, great teachers, nice parents. But we needed someone to lead us in the right direction.quot; Everything has changed now,quot; Szarell said.<br />quot; We're especially good in academics. People in West Greene hold their heads up high now.quot; Coming home<br />As the son of a Carmichaels coal miner, Rembold has experienced how things are changing.<br />He graduated from Carmichaels Area High School in 1965, earned a degree in math from California University of Pennsylvania in 1968 and found that, quot; there were no jobs to be had, so I migrated to Fairfax County, Va.quot; <br />He earned a master's degree in education from the University of Virginia in 1970 and spent 20 years working as a teacher and administrator in technology-rich Fairfax County.<br />For five years, he was principal of Robert E. Lee High School in Staunton, Va.<br />Rembold is working on his doctorate through a distance-learning program at the University of Indiana in Bloomington.<br />His dissertation centers on assessing the attitudes of superintendents toward economic development.<br />When Rembold returned to Greene County as superintendent of West Greene in 1993, his vision was to bring change and hope.<br />At first, he gazed out the window of the small white house that serves as the district administration building, set at the foot of the road to the secondary building.<br />quot; Every day I would look out my window and see the coal trucks taking coal away and the timber trucks taking the timber away. All the jobs were going out.<br />quot; I knew deep in my heart that these kids didn't have the same opportunities as kids in other areas,quot; Rembold said.<br />quot; Our kids are our most important resource.quot; <br />The $ 8 million in grants and many business partnerships already have made his vision of the foundation a reality.<br />In 1997 the district received a Smithsonian Institution award as a model of economic development.<br />quot; At graduation this year was the first time I felt that I could honestly tell the students that when they finish college, they can come home and have jobs waiting for them,quot; Rembold said.<br />LOAD-DATE: December 1, 1999<br />LANGUAGE: ENGLISH<br />GRAPHIC: PHOTO (2), PHOTO: Robert J. Pavuchak/Post-Gazette: West Greene Schools; Superintendent Charles Rembold visits a computer class at West Greene High; School.; PHOTO: Robert J. Pavuchak/Post-Gazette: West Greene Middle-Senior High School; complex sits in a quiet rural valley west of Rogersville.<br />Copyright 1999 P.G. Publishing Co.<br />