Students and administrators took Chamberlain through the school’s hallways and explained to them the advantages Graham Local provides. They talked about unique learning spaces third-grade students use for different classes and the school’s outdoor environmental learning space behind the elementary school.
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“We believe this is the first time an official from the U.S. Department of Education has ever come to Graham,” Koennecke said.
Koennecke also wanted to show Chamberlain the Career Gear program the school has implemented. The program promotes STEM education and career paths for students. Career Gears has been put into the schools to help students graduate with a diploma and a certificate.
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It’s important the federal government realizes the challenges rural schools must deal with, Koennecke said.
“All rural schools face unfunded mandates by the state. We have to look at how we use our dollars to help students and develop teachers first,” he said. “When you are constantly getting changes to expectations by both the state and the federal government … those mandates usually come unfunded.”
The teachers at Graham work hard to stay on the cutting edge of education even with the tough circumstances.
“We hope to show that our teachers are working with our students to do innovative, problem based and learning and to use the environment around us with really a shoestring budget,” he said.