Georgiana High expansion site for ACCESS

Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 8, 2006

A &uot;whole new world&uot; will soon be open to students in south Butler County.

During a recent visit to the Camellia City, Governor Bob Riley spoke on the importance of bringing new educational opportunities to rural counties through the ACCESS Distance Learning Program.

On June 28, it was announced a Butler County school, Georgiana High, will be part of the expansion of the pilot program launched in January 2006.

Georgiana High School is one of 20 expansion sites across the state chosen through a competitive/needs-based application process.

ACCESS is delivered to schools through two components – web-based courses and interactive videoconferencing courses (IVC).

The south Butler County high school will be provided with the needed technology, equipment and support to deliver and receive interactive distance learning.

Multipoint videoconferencing equipment will connect Georgiana students with Alabama certified &uot;e-teachers&uot; in synchronization during the school day.

Each student will also have use of a tablet computer for connection with interactive video of online content.

The goal is to make students in small, rural schools competitive with those in the state’s larger systems.

&uot;One thing that has held our education system back is that many schools have not been able to provide advanced courses and languages to students. This is especially true in our rural schools and smaller schools,&uot; Riley said.

&uot;With ACCESS, we’re helping solve that problem by putting cutting-edge technology in the classroom. This is a 21st century approach to learning and it will give our children more educational opportunities than every before.&uot;

New GHS Principal Joseph Dean is excited about the opportunities the ACCESS program will bring to his small campus.

&uot;This is going to allow us to do things not done on this campus in years. We will offer highly qualified teachers in science and foreign language classes, including chemistry, French and Spanish I and II,&uot; Dean said.

&uot;Our students will be able to ask questions and receive answers by way of the distance learning center. Basically, our kids are going to learn there is a big world outside of Georgiana, Alabama.&uot;

In the future, Dean also hopes the program will be expanded to the medical field for students interested in careers in medicine.

&uot;This equipment will be portable. With it, we hope to work with area medical facilities and personnel and tie this into an institute of higher learning. It would actually allow our students to learn how to use some of the equipment and tools.&uot;

Dean said county law enforcement would also benefit from the school’s new ACCESS distance learning center.

&uot;Our law enforcement people will be able to use the equipment to access police training taking place across the country, too.&uot;

Dean believes the expansion of the ACCESS program to Georgiana is &uot;only the beginning&uot; for his high school and the community.

&uot;My goal is to open up as many avenues as possible for our students that they might not ever experience otherwise. We can’t take our students around the world, but we can bring the world to our students right here in Georgiana.&uot;