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Lancaster ISD Presents State of Schools Report, 21st Century Learning in Action

Contact: Sonya Cole-Hamilton “Excellence Every Day…No Alibis, No Excuses”
Office: 972-218-1433 Cell: 972-358-7227
Friday, October 25, 2013

Lancaster ISD Presents State of Schools Report, 21st Century Learning in Action at the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce’s Luncheon
Lancaster, Texas/Lancaster ISD

The Lancaster Independent School District Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Michael D. McFarland summarized the district as “good and getting better” during the annual “State of the Schools” address at the monthly luncheon of the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce earlier this month.
Contrary to traditional thought, the details of this message was not presented by Dr. McFarland, but was instead actively communicated through a PBL (Problem-Based Learning) project facilitated by fourth, sixth and eighth graders.
In the introduction of this abbreviated PBL experience, Lancaster High School sophomore and event co-emcee, Renita Williams, stated to the 100+ crowd of parents, education administrators and business leaders, “Gone are the days of teaching students what to think. Today’s businesses want people who know HOW to think.”
The tabletop project — the cup challenge — was designed to showcase the experience of the learning
environment in a 21st Century classroom. The winners of the challenge had to collaborate with teammates to organize given clues and assemble provided cups in a tower only using the string provided
and non-verbal communication. George Washington Carver 6th Grade Stem Learning Center student,
Jonathan Govan assisted Williams as the emcee and candidly led the guests through a reflection Q&A, a
key component of problem-based learning.

After the student presentation, Assistant Superintendent of Achievement and Student Services Dr.
Helena Mosely spoke to the guests about how Lancaster ISD is preparing students to be leaders.
“What you experienced today was glimpse of learning in a 21st Century environment—a classroom in
Lancaster ISD where our students must communicate to reach an outcome, collaborate, think critically
and be creative with reach a solution,” she said. “And while we may not know exactly what lies ahead
for our students in the future, we do have the advantage of knowing what skills they will need once they get there.”
Dr. Mosely explained that in addition to a focus on academics, students are also encouraged to take initiative and be entrepreneurial.
“Our students are asked to take initiative and contribute to the world. We encourage these skills within our classrooms and our communities,” she said. “Our students are incredibly creative and interested in shaping their experience in the classroom, so we ask them for much more than a list of classroom rules and consequences.”
The overarching message of the luncheon, however, was that Lancaster ISD’s student achievement is rising.
“All of the district numbers are going up and to the right- and that is a good thing!” Dr. McFarland said. “We continue to have the highest graduation rate of the Best Southwest member cities and are also the only district across the state implementing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) initiatives for all of our students in all programs.”
The impact of the district’s More Than a Diploma Initiative is visible with more than 90% of the students graduating with letters of acceptance to colleges, universities or the military in addition to the more than $3 million awarded in scholarships.
“It used to be a high school diploma was a passport to the middle class.” Dr. McFarland said as he explained the value of diploma initiative and the STEM Curriculum. “However, now, holding only a high school diploma is a ticket to poverty.”
The Lancaster Chamber of Commerce traditionally reserves its October luncheon for the district to share its annual report.
“I think it is important that we highlight what the school district is doing. We want to show the workforce the diversity of the talent pool that the district is producing,” Kenneth Govan, Chairman of the Board, Lancaster Chamber of Commerce said. “You want companies to invest in their cities currently, but we want them to know that they can invest in the future talent pool that that Lancaster ISD is producing. These are the future community and business leaders of tomorrow.”
Notes for Media:
 More information about STEM education in Lancaster ISD is available on the website at and a full PDF of the State of Schools Report is available in the bulletin board section on the home page of Lancaster ISD website.
Photographs from the October 10 event are on the district’s website and Facebook page. All of the photos on this page and in the Facebook album were taken by Jacquinette Murphy of the Lancaster ISD Communications Department and Lancaster High School senior photojournalist, Keyante Randall.
The Lancaster Public Schools serve more than 6,000 pre-kindergarten through grade 12 students in 11 schools. The mission of the Lancaster Independent School District, a leader in providing innovative, quality programs, is to educate every student with the knowledge; skills; and principles to succeed and contribute in a competitive and technologically advancing world by providing rigorous and engaging learning opportunities that promote diversity; create an environment of integrity and respect; and establish a commitment to continued improvement in partnership with families and community.
422 S. Centre Ave. Lancaster, TX 75146 ~ 972.218.1400 ~