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principal retreat

By Holly Fesperman LeeSalisbury PostSchool administrators dressed like Harry Potter searched the woods around Horizons Unlimited on Tuesday to uncover strategies that will help them have a productive academic year.
The scavenger hunt was all part of the school system’s administrative retreat, which was based on the book, “If Harry Potter Ran General Electric,” by Tom Morris.
Gail Holmes, an educator on loan from the N.C. Department of Public Instruction who helps school systems with staff development, said the system was using the book and the popular Harry Potter character as a backdrop to help principals learn new strategies for working with different school challenges.
The principals and central office administrators also got a lesson in 21st Century technology. They used GPS tracking devices to locate containers in the woods that held curriculum-based activities.
After finding their first two containers, the seven groups of principals ó Gryffindors, Slytherins, Hufflepuffs, Muggles, House Elves, Professors and Ravenclaws ó went back to their classroom to learn about using iPods to record voice.
Community leaders were scheduled to visit the group after lunch. Each group was supposed to interview its leader and record the interview on an iPod.
Holmes played a sample interview she created in her classroom earlier this year. She told the group that her students were studying immigration and she assigned them to interview their oldest relatives.
“Just think of this kind of project with your students,” she said.
She also pointed out that the iPod could help children who struggle with reading.
Usually, a teacher listens to such a child read, goes back and identifies where the child stumbled, and help the student correct the problem. If the child’s reading was recorded on the iPod, he could listen to it himself and know what he needs to work on.
Kelly Feimster, director of media services, helped plan this year’s retreat and said, “The main thing is we wanted it to be an active learning experience. … To model the kind of activities they want in their schools.”
Alan King, assistant superintendent, said he thought the retreat went well.
“This workshop is an excellent opportunity to combine teamwork, technology, creativity and problem solving,” he said.
Groups were also in competition to win some technology gifts to take back to their school. Groups raced to be the first to finish each task and were given points based on their finishing order.
King’s group, the House Elves, were in first place around lunchtime, he said.
“This is a highly competitive group. We’re not real sure the rules are being enforced fairly,” he joked.
Susan Heaggans, Knox Middle School principal, said some of the new technology was a new experience for her.
“It also gives us some ideas of how we can take technology and work magic back at our schools, hopefully,” she said, wearing a Harry Potter party hat.Contact Holly Lee at 704-797-7683 or hlee@salisburypost.com.

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