Making a Difference:
KET's Educational Resources
Instead of purchasing curriculum, we can use the free resources from KET. They help us meet the guidelines—and the requirements.
Garrard County public schools
Tough times have taken their toll on Garrard County, located in central Kentucky not far from Richmond and Danville. The school system soldiers on with limited resources, educators there say, with a shrinking budget that has forced not only teacher layoffs but insufficient funds to even buy updated textbooks.
Thank goodness, say Garrard's technology and curriculum educators, for KET, a lifesaver providing resources, training, and other essentials free of cost to Garrard schools and school districts statewide.
"We really utilize KET," emphasized 40-year veteran educator Virginia Thomas, a former business and accounting teacher who now serves as the county's technology resource teacher.
"With cutbacks in funding each year it's good to have free resources. I've had one teacher say that she just couldn't live without it."
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Each fall, KET helps Garrard County set the tone for the upcoming school year, says Thomas. She schedules KET Education Consultant Cynthia Warner to give teachers district-wide training on resources available to them without cost.
"This gives us an opportunity to talk to Cynthia, see what the new ideas are, what grade they are level-appropriate for so that we can utilize all our resources."
"It seems like each year KET has developed a new program or has something new to present," Thomas said.
Of incalculable value, says Beth Lee, who oversees the district's teacher professional development, curriculum, and assessment, is Unbridled Learning, KET's series of online educational modules on Senate Bill 1. This new education-reform law went into effect in the 2011-2012 school year.
"(Unbridled Learning) explains each component of this statewide change. We used these modules on a large projected screen in the auditorium in the middle school for district-wide professional development," said Lee.
"We actually taught our teachers these changes using these modules as our 'presenter' rather than hiring somebody to come in and present. Because we couldn't. We just can't afford to do that."
Lee also relies on KET to help each teacher meet the 24 hours of professional development, or PD, required of teachers outside the school day.
"I have been able to assign them individualized PD through the modules that are on KET's website that don't require travel to a conference, mileage reimbursement, registration fees," she said. "And it's full of valuable, meaningful, and useful information."
Cuts in funding have also meant cuts in staff, so Garrard County has turned to KET to fill in the gaps in courses they are required to teach, said the pair.
"We are cutting positions, but the positions that get cut aren't reading, science, math and social studies—it's PE, art, humanities, practical living, home ec," Thomas said.
KET wellness, practical living, and arts and humanities teaching tools, including the Arts Toolkits, give teachers not trained in these areas the precise, keyed-to-standards teaching resources they need to impart the information to students.
"Instead of purchasing curriculum, we can use the free resources from KET," Lee said. "They help us meet the guidelines—and the requirements."
KET's wealth of materials, coupled with the workshops that education consultants provide and events like the KET Multimedia Professional Development Days held at KET's headquarters each year, have made Thomas and Lee fans for life.
"KET is so valuable," Lee said. "They provide resources free of charge, they're excellent resources—and they meet the content standards."