Thursday, April 25, 2013

Monte Vista Christian School

Monte Vista Christian School is set on 125 acres in a rural area out of San Francisco.  From the moment you walk in you can feel the rich heritage and see the culture of the school within the environment.  I particularly love the HUGE posters of students in action throughout the school.  There are incredibly homely environments scattered throughout the school where students can be seen relaxing, collaborating on projects or simply talking with friends.  Each building and specific classrooms in the school has Stephen's (Headmaster) wife special touch as an interior designer.  In each class you can 'feel' the environment - the photos below really can't do it justice.  Stephen mentioned learning and environments inspired by Alan November.

One environment that was a standout was the now 'paperless library'.  In this hangar type building you will find leather couches, comfy chairs, a green screening room, the iPad help desk and computer stations.

The  Headmaster, Stephen Sharp is a vibrant and passionate leader who truly knows his teaching team, students and their whanau and has a fantastic rapport with everyone as we walk around the campus and join in on classes.  Stephen talks of the importance of meeting with each student and their whanau as part of the interview process.  An incredible sense of pride in the school community 'oozes' from Stephen.  

Around 120 students are boarding and 800 plus students bus in.  The tuition cost in this school is a very reasonable $10,000 due to huge endowments gifted to school.  The school also caters for a percentage of international students, predominately Asian.

There are incredible resources well worth exploring on the school website in relation to their iPad implementation.

A summary of what iPads look like here

1000 iPads
Apple TV in each class
Students manage own iPads - individual iCloud account and total  personalisation (moved from one school apple ID)
Middle school - under 13 - parents have apple ID
School buys apps related to curriculum
Students designing apps for teachers
Teachers create iBooks using iBooks author  resulting in a uge savings on textbooks.  There is a $500 supplement for teacher who puts online class/text together, a great motivator:-)

Tom shared his advice for the Management of  iPads for school starting out

Tom talked about the issues of schools owning iPad - in his opinion school is then 'stuck with devices' - there is only a 3 year timeframe and it doesn't make for great sustainability.  It also puts a lot of work re updates, pushing out apps etc with teachers.  The ideal situation Tom talked about (and I tend to agree) is student owned with good support.  This school is in a lucky situation in that they are able to purchase iPads for students.

Tom's  3 key points for integration would be:

WIFI - ensure excellent and robust INVEST money into this first and foremost

Budget for people  - The iPad project consumes to begin with- it is important to have support for staff.  Monte Vista has 6 people part time staff working on iPads in various roles eg Help desk , Returns

Have strong inventory systems in place
Eg stickers with bar codes 


E clicker -App for diagnostic assessment (essentially it's a poll)
Google Drive
Green screen movie FX - social studies US history 
2 computer labs - used mainly for Final Cut Pro

One other concept that was interesting in this school is there WICKED marketing - movies are created by students, star students and are played in movie theatres, on prime time TV as well as on school website.  The marketing is aimed at the kids:-). Check out the movies in their You Tube channel.

It would be worthwhile liking this school on Facebook to continue following their learning journey and the teaching and learning at Monte Vista.

Our day began with breakfast in the American Diner themed school cafe, included zipping around in a golf cart, riding a horse (Mike), a 5 star lunch in the sunshine and a morning filled with enthusiastic teachers and students.  The most amazing learning spaces.

Loved Stephen's statement - 'We like to have fun but we work hard!'  A truly inspiring school for our last day on tour.

How do we inspire leaders to be that passionate???

I am sure I will be telling stories about this school for a long time:-)

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