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Williamsburg Schools Seek College Readiness Techniques with UC’s Assistance

Williamsburg, KY.,- Educators all over Kentucky are constantly on the move to find ways to improve their curriculum, learning techniques, and provide their students with the best education possible. Williamsburg Independent School District’s (WISD) Director of Instruction, Loren Connell, has teamed up with professors and administration from the University of the Cumberlands (UC) in collaboration with Professional Learning Communities (PLC) projects in hopes of setting higher standards for his students and teachers and instilling college readiness.

Professional Learning Communities were strongly introduced into the schools several years ago and have proven to be beneficial to students and teachers when implemented correctly. PLC’s bring community personnel into the school to enhance the curriculum and learning task for students.

“PLC’s are a collaborate effort and I believe it is very effective,” explained Connell. “We began doing this at Williamsburg a little while ago and are quite pleased with the outcome so far. We are excited to now include UC and its faculty. We have open, monthly meetings and we have a board of parents who attend who were selected from our PTO. We present ideas such as new grade cards to our parents and really listen to their advice and feedback and implement their ideas and concentrate on their concerns. We also include teachers, administration, students and now, University of the Cumberlands professors who have been so generous to help us educate our students and help them become college ready.”

Having graduated from UC in ’91 and finishing graduate school in 2000 and 2004, Connell experienced professors that have forever touched his life and shaped the way he educates his students today. Williamsburg High School graduate and UC professor, Dr. Jolly Sharp, is one in which he reached out to when he decided to take a larger leap with the PLC’s and get UC involved. Dr. Sharp, along with many other professors and adjunct instructors, has been very eager to volunteer her time and knowledge to Williamsburg and their upcoming projects. The majority of them are parents of Williamsburg students and see this as an opportunity to give back to the community which is what collaborative learning and team building is all about.

“Dr. Sharp is a WHS graduate and her children are as well,” explained Connell. “She seemed very quick to want to give back to her alma mater. She is an amazing lady and educator and I am thrilled to have her on board with our writing project that we will be experimenting with next semester. She is planning on retrieving one of her retired college writing tasks from her English composition course and giving it to our selected group of juniors. Dr. Sharp will explain the assignment to them and give them a certain amount of time to complete it. Then, she will take it up when they are due and grade it just as she would grade the work of her college students. This will provide our Williamsburg students with helpful feedback as well as show them where they stand compared to college freshmen. We hope this will help prepare our students for college.”

Connell hopes that intense PLC’s with the assistance from UC will provide the students with college readiness all-around. He feels confident that not only will the students get a taste of what college work is like but that ACT scores will increase and the students’ interest in furthering their education will grow stronger and more tangible.

Most educators are taught of the importance and success that stems from collaborating but not all of them are willing to make the move and team up with others to make it happen. Connell finds it extremely beneficial and urges others in the education field to do the same and be amazed by the overflow of positive results. “Collaborating with other educators on such projects brings a consensus to general instruction,” Connell said. “There is no dictatorship. Everyone’s input is included and helps us see ideas from all aspects and spectrums. I especially find it important to include the parents. Why not include the parents? They see results first-hand and can tell us what works for their child and what doesn’t. That is important information to have when making vital decisions in students’ educational instruction.”

Connell explained that there are eight different Professional Learning Communities with which they will become involved. The eight various elements are English and Language Arts, Mathematics, Science, Social Studies, K3 Primary, Writing, Practical Living, and Arts and Humanities. Each subject is vital to students’ education and should be thoroughly examined and practiced in order to receive a well-rounded educational background.

On January 23rd, Williamsburg City School will be providing courses to students, grades Preschool through sixth grade, that fall under the category of Arts and Humanities with an emphasis in dance and Practical Living with an emphasis in Physical Education (PE). All of this will be completed with the expertise of several UC instructors. The students will actively engage in exciting yet educational activities and events such as cross fit, dynamic warm-up, hip hop, kickboxing, and many more. B.J. Temple, UC’s Track and Field assistance coach, will be teaching the dynamic warm-up class which will show students the correct way to effectively stretch and warm-up the body without straining and ways to help prevent injury during activity. Jenine Leskiw, an adjunct instructor at UC and active parent of Williamsburg Elementary students, will be assisting students with dance.

“It is nice to receive help from UC whenever we reach out for it,” said Connell. “We are pleased to have this opportunity and be able to put college readiness on our students’ desks with projects like these. With the help and support of UC and the community, we hope to excel and move Williamsburg Independent School forward.”

Located in Williamsburg, Ky., University of the Cumberlands is an institution of regional distinction, which currently offers four undergraduate degrees in more than 40 major fields of study; 10 pre-professional programs; ten graduate degrees distributed over eight areas, including two doctorates and seven master’s degrees; certifications in education; and online programs. For more information visit