In The Know

GSC Education Newsletter, December 2015. Stan Hobbs, Editor

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Superficial Sentiment

"Not all who sing Christmas carols are Christians. Superficial sentiment is sometimes substituted for genuine faith," writes Robert J. Morgan

There is perhaps no greater example than Clovis. After the breakup of the Roman Empire, anarchy and disorder were the order of the day in Western Europe. When he was 15 years old, Clovis inherited a small kingdom in Gaul, enjoyed military success and eventually established what became the nation of France. Then Clovis married, Clothilde, who was a Christian. Apparently, she set him to thinking. When he was 30 he lost a battle and decided to cry out to God: "Jesus Christ, Clothilde says you are the Son of God and can give victory to those who hope in you. Give me a victory and I'll be baptized." The victory came and he was indeed baptized in a cathedral on December 25, 496 AD. Three thousand of his soldiers decided to follow his example. They too were baptized, albeit by having water flung on them as they walked along side a stream. Superficial? Yes. Very little change was noted in either Clovis or his soldiers. Historians tell us that they were no less pagan than they were prior to their baptism.

Nonetheless, this was very, very significant Christmas. Morgan writes, "This was a momentous day in church history for it was the first of the great mass conversions that turned Europe into a "Christian" continent. The stage was set for many genuine believers who spread the message of the Babe of Bethlehem throughout emerging Europe." And beyond.

Let's go beyond the superficial this Christmas and remember the reason for the season and the basis for real faith in that baby. Then testify and witness: He is the Son of God, the Great I AM.

All the best this season,

Stan

"Whoever has the Son, has life..." 1 John 5:11

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GSC Education Fair

Sunday, Jan. 24th 2016 at 12pm

6433 U.S. 11

Lumberton, MS

Registration 12 noon to 1:30 p.m. in the Gym

Students can showcase the excellent work they have completed at school and demonstrate what they can do on the spot.

Students, teachers and parents can feel part of the larger GREAT SDA education system here in Gulf States and beyond.

Students and parents get a look at Bass -- sometimes for the first time!

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Gulf States Conference ITBS Composite Results, 2015

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Comments

We have room for growth, obviously, in all grades but 4th and 6th grades are where we have the most room for improvement.

I'll publish our 2016 results next year so that we can compare. The most valuable aspect of score reports is that we can target those areas that need the most improvement. Let's work hard and pray that the students show improvement when look at the 5th and 7th grade results next year.

Important Documented Fact to Remember for Perspective: The longer a student is in our NAD school system the greater their score improves relative to national norms.

Making this a present reality in the Gulf States Conference is our challenge and our goal!

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Christian Video Licensing International

Great news. Every school in the Gulf States Conference will be covered by this license in a matter of days. It has been submitted and the documents are on the way. Once I have them I will send you something to put in your file at the school in case you are ever questioned about the use of DVD, Video or Streaming. For now, read on about what this license is all about:

Christian Video Licensing International (CVLI) continues to reach out to school leaders to provide a simple and effective copyright compliance solution.


As you may be aware, copyrighted motion pictures and other audiovisual programs that are available for rental or purchase in any legal format, such as DVDs or other digital formats, whether streamed or downloaded, are intended for personal, private use only. All non-curriculum based exhibitions of movies and other programs on school grounds require a public performance license. The U.S. Copyright Act stipulates that violations can result in substantial fines of up to $150,000 per infringement.


In the past, schools paid hundreds of dollars for a single movie night license. The CVLI Video License is a simple and affordable annual license solution for faith-based schools, representing the most comprehensive way to ensure copyright compliance on your campuses regardless of who pushes “play.” Pricing is based on full-time student enrollment and allows for a year of unlimited exhibitions before, during, or after school.


The CVLI Video License makes copyright compliance easy because it is facility-based; it provides your schools with copyright protection whether teachers, before or after school administrators, church members, or parent-teacher organizations show movies. Your schools are covered whether students watch an episode of a teacher approved program during rainy day recess or the home/school sponsors a family screening of an approved movie.

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DATA ROLLUP COURSE ONLINE

The Continuing Ed Course You've Always Wanted....

No seriously.

Adventist Learning Community: Featured Course!

Ins and Outs of Data Rollup & the NAD Education Tool Kit

Course Summary. This course will share the highlights of the Data Rollup Initiative as well as help you understand how the Dashboard serves to benefit all levels of our NAD system

What do I need to know? You need to know your Educator ID, your school's Organizational ID (orgID) and the email your conference and/or student information system has affiliated with your record
What Will I Learn In This Course? You will learn how to navigate Dashboard, use the different apps available to your role jurisdiction and basic troubleshooting.


FAQ

  • 1. Sign up using your NAD ID number and have your data imported. from the NAD Dashboard.
  • 2. How much do courses cost? They are FREE!
  • 3. May I get re-certification credit for taking courses? YES! When you successfully complete the course, a certificate is available for you to send to your conference and your Union Certification Registrar.
  • 4. Will new courses be added? YES - Resources and Courses are being added all the time.
  • 5. Do I have to be teaching in an NAD accredited school in order to take courses or access the resources? NO! The ALC content is available to anyone.

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News Headline: Religion May Make Kids More Judgemental

I read this article by Asher Fogle with interest and an immediate question came to mind? How is it with our kids in our schools? And secondly, what can we do in our schools to contribute to the development of kind, loving less judgemental kids in 2016? Hopefully we all strongly desire to disprove the final sentence of this article, but as we know, "religion" without Jesus and love doesn't accomplish righteousness or morality (I Corinthians 13 and Matthew 5:20). They will know we are Christians by our love, right? Note also that only 24% of the children in the study were Christians, but even those children gave cause for concern based on this study.


Turns out that religion may not make kids any nicer. At least that's according to a new study, which found that children from nonreligious homes are more generous and forgiving than children who grow up in families that practice a religion.


Since most religions promote generosity and self-sacrifice, researchers believed that "children reared in religious families should show stronger altruistic behaviour," they wrote in the journal Current Biology. So they decided to test this theory out.


They conducted a series of experiments with 1,170 children from the United States, Canada, Jordan, Turkey, South Africa, and China. Aged from 5 and 12 years old, 24% of the kids were from Christian households, 43% were Muslim, 2.5% were Jewish, 1.6% were Buddhist, and 0.4% were Hindu. The rest included 0.2% who were agnostic, 0.5% who classified as "other," and 28% who were from "nonreligious" families.


First, researchers showed each child 30 stickers and told them they could keep the 10 they liked best. Then the children were told not every student would get some stickers. The most surprising finding: Kids from secular households shared more than their religious counterparts. And when the scientists looked closer, they found Christian and Muslim kids to have essentially the same scores, while the nonreligious children scored 23% to 28% higher in regards to their willingness to share.


Basically, the more devout the family, the less altruistic the child - a pattern that went for all religions in the study. And the older a child (and the longer they practised a religion), the more pronounced this pattern was.


The second experiment involved showing kids scenarios involving bumping, pushing, and "interpersonal harm," and then the children rated each for "meanness." The researchers, led by University of Chicago neuroscientist Jean Decety, found that Muslim kids judged offenders harshest and pushed for the strongest punishments. Christian kids were second in their judgement and tied with secular children in their level of punishment, the researchers revealed.


The results "contradict the common-sense and popular assumption that children from religious households are more altruistic and kind toward others," according to the study, which was funded by the John Templeton Foundation. The authors propose that these findings "call into question whether religion is vital for moral development." Additionally, their conclusion is that separating religion from morality "will not reduce human kindness - in fact, it will do just the opposite."

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Thinking About Texting Parents? Best Practices for School-to-Parent Texting

By Justin Reich on December 7, 2015 2:10 PM
As Published in Education Week

Today's guest post comes from two colleagues at the Harvard Kennedy School, Todd Rogers and Kim Bohling, who have been using text messages as a tool to rally social support structures for students. In this post, they share some of their practical tips for educators.


Recently, we've noticed a growing interest in using text messaging as a means for improving and expanding parent outreach in schools. It's a reasonable strategy given that the vast majority of American adults own a cell phone, including more than 90% of households with children and 80.9% of Americans living below the poverty threshold. In general, texting can be a great way to quickly, cheaply, and easily communicate with busy parents. In fact, our lab, the Student Social Support R&D Lab, has utilized text messaging to engage more than 15,000 parents and other educational supporters.


Through our interventions, we've learned quite a bit about how to efficiently text messages that are personal, useful, and actionable. In an effort to support even more high-quality parent outreach, we'd like to share some of what we've learned.


Be mindful of legal limitations--especially the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and regulations concerning spam text messaging. FERPA limits what you can communicate about students and to whom. Spam regulations are concerned with obtaining permission to text and ensuring that recipients can opt-out at any time. If you're uncertain about compliance with these legal limitations, consult legal counsel.


Find a texting platform that meets your needs. There are many platforms to choose from--some of which are actually geared towards educational purposes. If you have the opportunity to choose yours, take time to think about the features you want (we'll suggest some in this post). If you don't have the luxury of choice, get to know the strengths and limitations of the platform you have.


Include an actionable and immediate action for parents to take (when possible).

Actionable: Updates are nice, but become easy to ignore if it isn't apparent that there is something to do with the information. You can suggest to parents to talk with the child about the information you're conveying or provide a reading tip to try that day.

Immediate: Texting is an instantaneous form of communication that is easily forgotten seconds after receiving. This is a platform for short-term, immediate steps and information. That is, it's great when discussing tonight's homework, but it's probably not the best way to engage parents about the importance of doing one's homework, in general.

Introduce yourself. An introduction letting recipients know who you are and why you're texting them may reduce the number of parents who unsubscribe from your text messaging. It's also simply more courteous.

Personalize your messages. In our texts, we often greet parents by name, include the students' names, and use appropriate gender pronouns. Here's an example of the difference personalization can make:

How? Some texting platforms allow for variable text fields, which work like the mail merge feature in Word. If this is a feature you want, check to ensure that your platform will allow for variable text fields.


Send messages using a local area code. This may help reduce the number of parents who unsubscribe.


Reduce the effort required of parents to sign up. Requiring parents to go out of their way to fill out a separate form, text a code, or download an app may reduce your sign-up rate. If you want to broaden your reach, reduce the amount of steps required to sign up.

How? Back-to-school, program enrollment, or other routine forms provide an excellent opportunity to reach more parents. Simply include a checkbox for parents to indicate that they would like to receive text message updates from you.

Platform Tip: Ensure that your platform will allow you to upload spreadsheets of recipients into the system. Some platforms will only allow you to add users by having the user text a specific code or require you to manually enter each user individually.


Don't overload parents with too many messages. We intend to study the optimal frequency, but for now, we generally send no more than a few messages per week so as not to overwhelm busy families.


Try to keep messages under 160 characters. If you go over this limit, your long message will be split in two--possibly in the middle of a word. Many phone carriers will reassemble the two parts correctly at the receiving end (a process known as "concatenation"). However, not all phone carriers provide this service and you may end up with disordered multi-part messages. If you're personalizing messages, make sure to allow space for the longest names on your list.


Texting in a language other than English and Spanish can be challenging. While it would be ideal to do parent outreach in a parent's preferred language, once you utilize a character that isn't on a standard cell phone (such as é or 학), the text language switches from standard English to unicode. The character limit drops to just 70 characters per message when texting in Unicode. Also, there is no guarantee that the recipient's phone will correctly receive the non-standard character.


Have a plan for your outgoing messages. Text messaging is sometimes seen as a strategy in and of itself, but it's just a tool for communication. The real strategy is centered around what you want to communicate, to whom, and when (date and time of day).

Platform Tip: Look for one that allows you to pre-schedule the date and time your messages are sent, so you can program several weeks' worth of messages in one sitting.


Add your own phone number to the messaging list. This is an easy way to monitor your outgoing messages. Also, be sure to use your number to send several test messages in advance to make sure you're using your software correctly.


Have a plan for responding to parent responses. You will get responses from recipients--mostly within an hour or two of when the message was sent. Many will initially be along the lines of "Who is this?" or "Why am I getting these messages?" It's useful to have prepared answers for some of these general questions. For other, more individualized questions, it's helpful to have several staff members trained and with time allocated to respond in a timely and personal manner.


Platform Tip: Ensure your platform has some sort of "inbox" feature, so that you can easily see and individually respond to messages.


At the S3 Lab, we believe it's possible to give parents more meaningful and actionable information about their students without further burdening budgets and teachers. The following are a handful of studies that are consistent with this belief: Sending parents of high school students texts about missing assignments and upcoming tests resulted in large student achievement gains. When parents of preschoolers received tips about literacy development via text message, parents engaged in more in-home literacy activities and students improved in some early literacy skills. In another study, parents of preschoolers received text message reminders to read with their children, which were shown to increase parental use of literacy activities on an iPad. Similar text-based strategies have also been effective with students, such as a series of personalized reminders that increased college enrollment rates among college-intending students.


We hope these tips will be helpful as you think about how to expand your parent engagement efforts in an efficient, inexpensive, and productive way.

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Our Own Adventist Christian Academy (Panama City, FL) Featured in Southern Tidings, December 2015

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Great work Sandra, Melissa, Maquel, Pastor Larry, Chairman Kenneth and the entire team

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Education Fair!

January 24-25, 2016
Bass Memorial Academy
Grades 5-8

Please go to the Education Department page at the Gulf States Conference website and download the forms regarding the Ed Fair. Please start pulling information for the students who are coming. It will be a very quick turn around after Christmas and the event.

Save The Date: Teacher Convention 2016!

Elementary and Middle School Teacher Convention will be at the GSC Office and Camp Alamisco -- September 28 to October 2, 2016

We are trying something new to lesson the impact of the convention on school preparation the week before school begins. The hope is this will have the added benefit of a "break" for both you and the students between the start of school and Thanksgiving vacation.

A few early details:
1. Wednesday can be a half day of school if you choose. Teachers will stay Wednesday night in Montgomery and we will have dinner together that evening.
2. Thursday meetings will be at the Conference Office and we'll transition to the camp that afternoon.
3. Friday, Sabbath and Sunday meetings and recreation time will be at the Camp. Sunday's session will end no later than 10:00 a.m.

Bass Memorial Academy staff will have their own separate pre-session in 2016 as planned by the administration there.

We have Five Interim Accreditation Visits This School Year

Adventist Christian Academy, February 11, 2016

Bass Christian Elementary, March 2, 2016

Faith Adventist Christian School, January 26, 2016

Montgomery Adventist Academy, March 15, 2016

Pensacola Junior Academy, February 10, 2016


and one Full Accreditation Visit...Hoover Christian School, February 18, 2016

WrAP

WrAP Testing is optional for our schools, but here is the info for those participating....

Welcome to the 2015-2016 school year and I hope it's off to a great start. I believe most of you have started and I hope it's going well thus far! If there is anything I can tell you at this point, as you already know my background, is that supporting you and customer service is my main goal. I honestly and truly enjoy helping people. It is the best part of my day - and if you ever have a question, please reach out.


Understanding your schools and who to contact, which school uses which products, will take some time, so be patient with me - but I look forward to learning from you as we move through the year.


I really mean it when I say - ask me anything. I may not always know the answers, but I most definitely commit to finding them and getting back to you within a VERY timely manner. So with that - I hope you feel comfortable reaching out to me and let's get started! I am going to focus on the WrAP and WPP for now in this email...


Reminder 1: Preparing to order WPP = Please begin gathering your lists of those who will be using the WPP. Ordering once a year, it does make it difficult understanding what to do when and where and how.


For the WPP - you will order here: https://www.erblearn.org/services/pathways/writing

* If you forgot your username and password - just click - "Forgot Password" and it will send you an email to get started again.

* I have attached the excel document that WPP operations will ask you for - which is the teacher/class information

* You register your children IN the actual portal - not via a spreadsheet (unlike the WrAP)

* If you have questions for me about this - just ask!

* You can always email their support for technical questions, as well: wppsupport@erblearn.org


Reminder 2: Preparing to order WrAP


For the WrAP - I know this is a bit down the road, but the rosters take so much time, it's never too early to begin!

* You will begin by placing your order here: https://www.erblearn.org/services/wrap-overview/ordering

* This year you have the choice of Stimulus Prompts or Non-Stimulus Prompts and there are examples of each here: https://www.erblearn.org/services/wrap-overview (scroll down to the bottom)

* This year you will ALSO have the choice to choose your own genre per grade level - but IN ADDITION - you get to see and choose the actual prompt. You will be able to read and choose which one you like best for your students!

* To refresh your memory - when you first do your order - all it is going to ask for is the total number of testers you will have. That's all it will need to begin.

* Then, you will receive an email to continue with your rosters!

* I have also attached a Roster Instruction Guide, as well. I will do all I can to make this painless and successful for you!

* I have also attached an EXAMPLE ROSTER - it is altered from an actual school - w/out last names and various things changed for security. But you can use it to refresh your memory!


* If you want to get started on your rosters now...you absolutely can. Just enter into your WrAP portal from last year and pull up last year's roster...download/save...and begin to update with this year's information on the students testing.

** Important: From the time you submit a SUCCESSFUL upload of your roster, please allow 3 weeks, before you will receive the testing materials - so plan accordingly; hence, it's never too early to get started on this :)


If you have any questions about anything - let me know. I am happy to help you all get started! I want you to be able to use the WPP for the entire year - it's one of my favorite programs we have and use it across the curriculum! Science teachers can upload labs to watch, etc... It's just a great tool.

If anyone is interested in a Vocabulary Program or our Comprehensive Testing Program (CTP - Achievement Testing) - I am happy to provide you a webinar.


If any of you do NOT use the WPP at this time - sign up for a free 2 month trial!


I hope this didn't overwhelm you - but for this first email - I wanted to remind you of a lot - to help you be best prepared and never scrunched for time.


(I will also be having another email come out in another week that goes to all my member schools, so you will be getting another one from me, shortly...just an FYI)! It addresses an abundance of ERB programs but want to include you all, as well!


Sincerely,

Beth


____________________________________________

Beth Cirulis M.Ed.

ERB Consultant, Member Services

ERB www.erblearn.org

W 646.503.2644| C 602.690.1275

bcirulis@erblearn.org

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BMA Christmas Banquet, 2015

New Orleans' Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

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BMA Residence Hall Open House, December 2015

More Elementary School Photos Coming in the January Edition. If you have some you wish to share please email them to me!

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A Customer Service Tip from God's Word...

Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone. -- Colossians 4:6

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GSC Educator Birthdays: January

Happy Birthday to...
Katherine Bowes (BMA, 7th)
Chris Busche (BMA, 9th)
Meggan Johnson (Hoover, 12th)
Kathleen Martin (GSC, 13th)
Marissa Harrison (GSC, 13th)
Wesley Gennick (Mobile, 23rd)
Sandra Pinkard (Adventist Christian, 24th)
Melissa Aldridge (Adventist Christian, 29th)