Please join us on Friday at 1 PM in 103A Walker Hall to hear Dr. Searcy speak on...
“These Are Our Students”: A Report of My Spring 2022 Off Campus Scholarly Assignment at Appalachian State University’s Academy at Middle Fork
If you wish to join via zoom, please contact the colloquium coordinators (Kristen Roland or Nadun Dissanayake) for the link.
Abstract: As a result of North Carolina legislation passed in 2016, Appalachian State University was partnered with the Winston Salem Forsyth County School (WSFCS) district to create its first laboratory school. Appalachian State University’s Academy at Middle Fork, a public K-5 elementary school, opened its door two years later. In Fall 2019, I and an Appalachian State Department of Mathematical Sciences colleague, Jill Thomley, were chosen to be a part of the Academy Research Cluster (ARC), created with a Special Innovation Grant from the Office of the Chancellor, “to examine the activities and collaborations of Middle Fork Academy and its interactions with Appalachian, its community, and its parents” and report “the potential impacts of scaling up activities or characteristics that demonstrate potential for positively impacting student and school outcomes.” Our part of this Academy self-study, focused on using Innovation Diffusion Theory lens to look at the big picture, from the partnerships that helped bring the Academy into reality to the school that is creating such a special place for children to learn every day. From this big-picture perspective, we wanted to learn about educational practices that can be used at other North Carolina public schools, characteristics of a healthy, productive lab school-university relationship, and lessons learned from planning and putting into practice such an innovative learning environment. We were each given a course release in Spring 2020 to conduct participant observations at the Academy. Then the pandemic hit. Like everyone else, Jill and I had to stop, adjust to our new “normal”, and pivot our data collection focus. Although the ARC has officially come to an end, we have partnered with the Academy at Middle Fork to continue our self study. My talk will focus on how I used my Spring 2022 Off Campus Scholarly Assignment at the Academy to continue our interrupted observations and relationship building and how this has acted as a springboard for a new article, more intensive data collection, and plans for an expanded, externally-funded project.