The principal of Park Ridge Elementary School, one of Discovery Education’s most inspiring partners, was featured in a Wednesday interview on the Education Talk Radio podcast.
Principal Joe Balchunas and Discovery Education’s Senior VP of National Partnerships, Coni Rechner, were both interviewed live by the show’s host Larry Jacobs about how the past two years have been transformative for students at Park Ridge.
“We are making positive trends in student achievement and school culture, so we’re very proud of Park Ridge,” said Balchunas on the show.
Two years ago, the school was facing huge challenges. Grades were down, student confidence was down, and community engagement just wasn’t where it needed to be. Balchunas was selected by Broward County school district leaders to launch a turnaround movement at Park Ridge. Balchunas was empowered to hire new staff, engage a new approach to curriculum, and take big swings at altering the trajectory for the troubled school.
Soon after charting a new course for the school, a palpable change could be felt in the hallways at Park Ridge. Students were more attentive and responsive in class. Parents were more engaged with their children’s education. A buzz of positivity coursed through the classrooms. By the end of the 2016-2017 school year, Park Ridge’s student scores broke a years-long streak of failing grades to reach an overall grade of C. And it’s just the beginning, said Balchunas.
“I credit a lot of the transformation of my classroom instruction and the transition to digital content in teaching and learning — I credit it with Discovery,” said Balchunas on the show.
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Park Ridge’s incredible comeback story.