Innovate to Educate Entry

Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System

Alena Zachery-Ross, Superintendent of Schools

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

"When first joining Muskegon Heights Public School Academy System as superintendent, 30% of our district's students were in special education, more than twice the national average. In addition, students had not received adequate services the previous year. Therefore, it became a priority of our administrative and special education teams to address this issue. We set out with the imminent goal of meeting these students' learning objectives, and increasing their achievement, while integrating technology.
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What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

The biggest challenge was overcoming the initial skepticism about implementing online therapy versus traditional on-site therapy. This challenge was soon alleviated however when we saw how excited and engaged students were in the therapy sessions, and the results they were experiencing. Our therapist built a strong rapport with the students—something we initially were not sure would take place—and students who were reluctant to receive any speech therapy in general, especially our older students,
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What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

Informed students and parents
Technology that supports the operation
Clinicians who understand the population

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