Archive for Thursday, March 16, 2000

Local teachers win Epcot getaway

March 16, 2000

DeSoto teachers Keil Hileman, Kristen Springer and Cheryl Evers were given the Teachers Touching the Future award.

So what are they going to do now?

You guessed it. They're going to Disney World.

Monticello Trails Middle School teachers Keil Hileman and Kristen
Springer are two of the winners of the Teachers Touching the Future
award. Not pictured is Cheryl Evers, another winner.

Monticello Trails Middle School teachers Keil Hileman and Kristen Springer are two of the winners of the Teachers Touching the Future award. Not pictured is Cheryl Evers, another winner.

The DeSoto teachers won a trip to the Epcot Center in Orlando, Fla. through a DeSoto school program unlike any in the country.

Teachers Touching the Future was initiated two years ago by DeSoto Superintendent Marilyn Layman after she visited Epcot Center, which stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow.

Impressed with the learning opportunities she saw, Layman wanted every teacher in her district to visit the futuristic theme park and bring the vision of tomorrow back to students.

Since she couldn't afford to send everyone at once, Layman decided to send a few every year. She enlisted the sponsorship of the Hollis & Miller Group, an architectural firm that has worked with the district in the past, and the Teachers Touching the Future program was born.

This year's winners will receive a trip to Orlando. They will tour a school of the future, located in Celebration, a town designed by Disney and located on the Disney World property. It's an actual town with residents and a school that is equipped with cutting-edge technology.

Hileman, Springer and Evers will get to see these state-of-the-art classrooms in action.

The trip will happen sometime in April, depending on the schedules of the winners, said Carol Farmer, the public relations coordinator for the DeSoto School District. This year's winners were chosen from nine applicants. Entrants submitted applications and the winners were chosen based on their answers.

Among the things applicants are asked to describe is the characteristics of people who will thrive in the 21st century and how teachers can prepare students to thrive in such

See Epcot, Page 2A

an environment.

The teachers were also asked to describe three significant future trends of education and describe what a 21st century classroom will look and feel like.

The vision described by Hileman, who teaches world history at Monticello Trails Middle School, included increasing connections between the real world and the classroom, the willingness of teachers to adapt to each student's individual learning style and the increased use of technology by students.

Hileman said he was ready to leave for the trip as soon as he heard he was selected.

"I can't wait to go, see, learn and bring it back," he said. "I went to Epcot last year, but the home of the future and the classroom of the future were closed."

Springer, who teaches special education at Monticello Trails Middle School, said her vision of the future included students and teachers with the "willingness to take risks, the ability to relate to others with various backgrounds and the innovation to use one's ideas in new, creative ways."

Because she has been teaching for three years, Springer said, she is interested in seeing what a school of the future looks like.

"A lot of the things we see, I may use someday," she said. "And I've never been to Florida, so I'm looking forward to that."

The third winner, Cheryl Evers, teaches physical education at Woodsonia Elementary. Evers described her vision of a 21st century gymnasium to the selection committee.

"Gymnasiums in the 21st Century will have a comforting sense of familiarity with a twist of 'Wow,'" Evers wrote.

"Children will still have the need to exercise their bodies and their minds, but the means by which they accomplish it will be a little different. The equipment will still be real and hands on but will accommodate children's individual abilities with more accuracy and efficiency."

Evers said she would pay special attention to the physical education programs at the futuristic school.

"A lot of people still think physical education just involves throwing a basketball to the students," she said.

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