- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—MORRIS — The first day of class for the 2015-16 year at Morris Community High School is three weeks away, and teachers are readying their classrooms and lesson plans.

Dave Auwerda, chairman of the MCHS social studies department and instructional technology leader, said the department met in June and set a goal of maintaining test continuity to ensure students are given the best chance to be successful.

The department compared test data from different classes and plans to implement its most effective strategies throughout the department in an effort to get students to score better on tests. With that in mind, Auwerda said faculty is working to improve the freshman transition process. One goal set in hopes of smoothing the process is to better integrate reading and writing across the curriculum.

“Education is constantly evolving,” Auwerda said. “We want to prove what we’re doing is working.”

Morris High School receives freshmen from four feeder schools, so students enter with varying backgrounds. Auwerda said of a recent sophomore class surveyed, about 30 percent said they know how to study. The school then decided to do something about that.

“We want freshmen to have skills and tools to rely on,” Auwerda said.

Auwerda, who spent 25 to 30 hours a week studying over the summer to gain another Google technology certification, said students from feeder schools have different levels of comfort with technology.

As the school moves toward a paperless classroom, Auwerda is one of the leaders in implementing various Google platforms at school in regards to how work is completed. Some students come into Morris High School from a feeder school with a one-to-one technology ratio, he said, which means each student has access to a technology device for the purpose of doing school work. Others don’t have the same experience.

“We want to keep the classroom current,” Auwerda said.

Another teacher aiming to keep his classroom current is industrial tech teacher Mark Smith. With the help of several students, Smith installed a new spray room within his shop to apply paint, adhesives and stains to various projects.

“The old one was not designed to handle a modern learning environment,” Smith said.

In 2012, Smith started networking and gaining industry supporters. Since then, nearly $340,000 worth of supplies, services or monetary donations have been made to his program. This allowed for the shop’s new spray room and additional CNC router that will give the program a better foundation for its work.

The shop will continue to produce acoustic guitars, longboards and entertainment centers. In the future, Smith hopes to have students complete kitchen cabinets.

On the more musical side of things, Morris’ band director, Jeff Muraida, said he’s looking to switch up the sound of the band this school year.

“I’m all about that bass,” Muraida said.

He plans to incorporate more depth of sound, as well as use musical compositions which use more bass. He also wants to add more structure to rehearsals, by making sure each minute of time is used productively.

Band camp is taking place the next two weeks, and Muraida hopes to continue strong performances at band competitions. The school has three scheduled for the fall.

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(c)2015 the Morris Daily Herald (Morris, Ill.)

Visit the Morris Daily Herald (Morris, Ill.) at www.morrisdailyherald.com

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