ACCESS donates $14,000 to PCHS

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, August 16, 2012

The ACCESS program donated $14,000 to Pike County High School for sharing Lydia Ellis with the ACCESS program. Ellis teaches VIC courses for ACCESS at PCHS. The check was presented to Willie Wright, school principal, on Thursday. From left, Casey Mack, ACCESS learning management system administrator, Wright, Ellis and Kay Sanders, ACCESS associate director of academics.

The Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide program presented a check in the amount of $14,000 to Pike County High School on Thursday.

The funds compensate PCHS for the sharing of Lydia Ellis, Spanish teacher, with the ACCESS program for the benefit of the children of Alabama. Ellis teaches the Video Conferencing Interactive courses for ACCESS at PCHS.

Willie Wright, school principal, accepted the check on behalf of Ellis and PCHS and expressed appreciation to the representatives of the ACCESS program and pledged his school’s continued support of the program.

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Kay Sanders, associate director of academics for the ACCESS program, said the school could use the funds for any need.

“We don’t tell the school how to use the money,” Sanders said. “It may be used for maintenance of the VIC equipment, to pay facilitators or for whatever purpose the school system prefers.”

The VCI courses are taught by a teacher standing in a classroom specially equipped with a camera, television screen, sound equipment and an interactive “smart board,” along with various other technologies.

“Schools from around the state that are also outfitted with this technology can tune in to that teacher as he or she teaches a lesson,” Sanders said. “The experience is not unlike listening to a teacher face-to-face, except the teacher is appearing live via the television screen.”

Students sitting in their own high-tech classrooms can interact with the VIC teacher, just as they would in a conventional classroom setting, Sanders said.

At PCHS, Ellis teaches her regular classroom students and also teaches students from another school via VIC technology.

The Troy University ACCESS Support System serves about 20,000 high school students across 27 Alabama counties from Montgomery south to Mobile.

Sanders said ACCESS opens up the possibility for students in rural schools to take specialized and/or advanced courses that otherwise would be off-limits to them.

“ACCESS strives to hire the best and the brightest educators in their respective subject areas,” she said. “The program mandates that prospective teachers be highly qualified as defined by the U.S. Department of Education.”

Even then, teachers hired to teach for ACCESS attend mandatory three-day training sessions to ensure they are properly trained to teach online courses.

The highest demand for ACCESS courses continues to be in the area of foreign languages. ACCESS offers six foreign language courses to the children of Alabama – Spanish, French, German, Latin, Mandarin Chinese and Korean.