Monday, December 15, 2008

Arbor Heights on the Net


Arbor Heights has an illustrious past on the Internet, beginning with the establishment of The Earth Day Groceries Project and the school web site in 1994, pictured here. This is a place to share thoughts about the impact of our school on the web in education. Leave a comment here (please leave your full name, location, and affiliation), or send an email, and we'll get your story up here. Thanks! - Mark

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5 comments:

Bob Cotter said...

Wow... I read the story about Arbor Heights the other day and was flabbergasted.

I hope you don't mind a bit of a trip down memory lane... Many years ago, I was spending some time out teaching and being a principal, yet was still involved in education. I had done some early work on the importance of computers for education and had done some post graduate work on a project called, "Telecommunications and the Online Educator" - a paper long since gone from my archives.

When the web started to weave its way into my life, I was immediately struck by how 'websites' might be engaging for the members of a school community. That was when I discovered the Arbor Heights site. It was downright fascinating and I visited it often over the years.

In 1999 I returned to education as a teacher/principal in a small school in Langdale, British Columbia. One of the first things I did was to create a web page for the school. I modeled it a bit after the Arbor Heights school pages, including little square icons and image maps. My how things have changed.

I recall that our school site was one of the ones listed on About.com ... one of some 700 or so school sites in the world that they recognized! There were four elementary school sites in British Columbia on that list.

Over the years I have followed the progress of Arbor Heights ... always wanting to get a chance to visit, but never doing so.

I am so sorry to hear of the upset in your community. We, too, are not immune to changes and our school district is seeking public input into changes that may be made in the future, the top two right now being to change two of our elementary schools into middle schools and moving the grade K-6 students to other schools. I've heard the message from those parents as well as I am currently responsible for our school district website and the feedback on many issues that comes my way as webmaster to be forwarded on to the board office.

So, I wish you and the students well in your journey ahead.

Cheers from BC.
Bob Cotter
Manager of Data & Technology
School District #46 (Sunshine Coast)
Gibsons, B.C. Canada

Ferdi Serim said...

Please count me among those who have great gratitude for the pioneering work that has emanated from Arbor Heights. When I first became involved with the Internet in education, there was precious little there for K12. At this time, the world wide web had not even been invented yet. However, you were there with us as we built what was needed, and when the web did become available, you and your students pointed the way to what could be achieved. Technology changes so rapidly, that the idea of impermanence must always be at hand.

However, what does persist is unwavering creativity, imagination, ingenuity and dedication. I hope that in making difficult decisions about resource allocation that those deciding take into account the value of honoring the longstanding contributions coming from this school, and allowing the roots of innovation to continue to spread and deepen. Some aspects of life in the digital age must change in a flash, but this makes it equally important that we maintain connection with the "real life" parts, that people can experience with the fullness of their being. A school is much more than a building, it is a purposeful place, and the purposes that you, your colleagues and your students have followed have had great influence on many of us all over the world.

I wish you continued success and growing support in your quest to save your school, and secure the opportunity to continue your work with each new entering class of students.

Ferdi Serim
Santa Fe, NM 87508

ISTE Board Member (at-large)

janice said...

I have been aware of the Arbor Heights website since around 1995. It inspired me to help my own elementary school (at the time) to create a web presence. In the meantime I have followed the Earth Day Groceries Project and read what students have been doing with the XO laptops on their blog.

Arbor Heights has been a leader in online communication and an inspiration to others.

Janice Friesen
Campus Technology Coordinator
Barton Creek Elementary School
Austin, TX

Paul Schwan said...

I am a fifth grade teacher at a 500-student Pre-K through 8th grade school in Fort Myers, Florida. Like Mark, I am always looking for ways to integrate technology into the core curriculum. Technology is wrapped up in almost everything people do on a day-to-day basis; why not use it in education, too?

The way Arbor Heights has done this over the years, and the fact that I, and others, have "found" Arbor Heights and its online contributions via the Internet, speaks volumes about the way Mark and the other educators at this fine school are using technology to communicate your school's mission. In addition, the students of Arbor Heights are getting a still-somewhat-unique opportunity to be on the cutting edge of technology use.

I hope Arbor Heights, which is uniquely situated to carry on a tradition of excellence in educational leadership, can continue to operate as a community-based school (another endangered species) for a long time to come!

Paul Schwan
fifth grade teacher
Fort Myers, Florida

Rhonda Wills said...

I just read your blog post about the possible closure of Arbor Heights. I wanted to let you know that your school, your students and you have been an educational technology beacon for me and the teachers and students that I work with for a number of years. I was fortunate to come across Arbor Heights' website in one of the first years that our school division provided internet access in our schools and have been inspired ever since! Through the work of you and your students I was able to get two of the schools where I have worked to participate in the Earth Day Grocery Bag project. The Seatle Seahawks newsletter has been an inspiration for several groups of students at my schools as we have worked at creating our own newsletters. I have referred to your school website over the years as I have worked at designing the websites at a number of schools. Most recently, I have referred teachers and students to your classblogmeister site and I have appreciated your comments in the the support listserv for blogmeister. Your work has made a difference!

I have some idea of the struggle that you are going through as our own school division looks at closures and program changes and cancellations in these next couple of years. I will be thinking of you.

Rhonda Wills
Teacher-librarian
McLurg Elementary School
Regina, Saskatchewan