Teachers team up to help students succeed


Zakary Hicks

Persevere! This March Madness competition is not like normal basketball games which benefit the audience, now it benefits the students. From March 4 to March 15, groups of teachers competed to make students’ more engaged in class.

Zakary Hicks, Reporter

Numerous seventh, eighth and ninth grade teachers assembled five teams of five to compete in the March Madness contest.  These teams compete by implementing instructional strategies and generous actions from March 4 to March 15.

“It was a competition where teachers participated in teams using teaching strategies such as Collins writings, reading strategies and games,” ninth grade teacher Heather Partsch said.

Keri Harrington and Julie Storm along with the instructional coaches at the high school came up with the playbook of strategies.

“The strategies are researched-based best practices for students when it comes to instruction and student engagement.  We also added in some morale building points that would help our staff spread good vibes to one another. We leveled the strategies using points.  We had one, two, three and five pointers that were available for the teachers to complete,” ninth grade instructional coach Julie Storm said.

In order to find which team won the competition scores were kept.

“Once a teacher completed a strategy they had to fill out the reflection sheet for that strategy.  They turned it into the basket outside of our room. We then tallied the scores on a digital score sheet that everyone had access to for viewing,” Storm said.

The teachers signed up to make teams.

“The teams had to be made up of five people, no more or less.  Teams may include teachers from one department or across disciplines and grade levels.  We had 25 teachers sign up and that made five teams,” Storm said.

The teachers used normal school activities along with some more fun activities.

“Pass the cell, hide and seek with eggs filled with biology questions, two minute talks and chain notes were some activities I used in my classes,” Partsch said.

The teachers and students both have thoughts on the competition.

“It was a lot of fun, but at the same time it was a lot of work and stressful.  My students loved many of the activities but also thought some of them were not as fun,” Partsch said.

Out of the whole contest, there was one main purpose.

“The overall purpose was for teachers to be able to in a two week period practice and get to know research-based strategies that are proven to engage students.  We wanted them to be able to try them out and see what they liked and did not like. In the end, our hope was that a few of those strategies would stick and become a staple in their teaching,” Storm said.

The students also took something from the competition.

“I think that students learned that you can be engaged in your learning and have fun.  That there are multiple ways in which you can introduce content and check for understanding.  We hope that the students had fun with some of the strategies and we hope that they would encourage their teachers to keep using them,” Storm said.

The five teams were: Villanova Wildcats with teachers Julie Gardner, Jessica Hogan, Steph McAleer, Heather Partsch and Patti Wendle.  Syracuse Orangemen with teachers Autumn Barry-Kyle, Robyn Dixon, Chris Lloyd, Lisa Plummer and Tara Vancaster. Morehead State Eagles with teachers Shawn Greaser, Keith McFarland, Adam Walstrom, Mackenzie Wilt and Derek Winterburn.  Youngstown State Penguins with teachers Jim O’ Donnell, Jennyfer Wilson, Emily Eakins, Melissa Krott and David McCollough. Gonzaga University Bulldogs with teachers Alyssa McCombie, Beth Bronson, Annetta Conway, Suzanne Lloyd and Donna Kling.  

Third place finishers won two additional dress down days.  Second place finishers won three additional dress down days.  First place winsners won one week of dress downs days and an afternoon coverage to watch the games, eat pizza and wings.

The team coming in third place was the Villanova Wildcats with 222 points, second place was the Morehead State Eagles with 303 points and the winner of the competition weas the Gonzaga University Bulldogs with 309 points.