Educational documentary to be shown

Published 9:27 am Saturday, May 14, 2016

By Allison T. Williams

Suffolk News-Herald


Isle of Wight Public Schools is one of Virginia’s only school divisions scheduled to host a viewing of the award-winning educational documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed.”

A public screening will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 19, in Smithfield High School, 14171 Turner Drive. The film — which focuses on changes filmmaker Ted Dintersmith says are crucial to overhauling the United States’ educational system — is open to the public.

The documentary is based off High Tech High, a group of successful charter public schools in San Diego, Calif., said Lynn Briggs, the school division’s spokeswoman. Isle of Wight School Superintendent Dr. Jim Thornton has visited High Tech High and plans to gradually implement components into Isle of Wight’s instruction next year.

All Isle of Wight teachers will receive some training in the teaching techniques before school starts next fall, said Briggs. But roughly half of the division’s 500 teachers have signed up for additional voluntary training this summer, she added.

“They want to be a part of this and they want to be prepared as we move forward in this direction,” Briggs said.

It’s a different teaching style than this generation of teachers — and parents — are accustomed to, Briggs said. Students become more engaged in their learning and, through projects, learn skills that will transition into the workplace: teamwork, public presentation skills, learning content and meeting deadlines.

Rather than having classwork that revolves around standardized testing objectives, students will be challenged to think more creatively, Briggs said.

“It’s all project-based learning … so students will learn by doing,” she said. “Students may work collaboratively on a lot of projects, covering multiple subject areas.

“At the end, they will be asked to present their project to parents, businesses or a group of community members.”

Briggs said she has no idea how many people to expect for the showing. Based on the film’s website, the only current public showings are in Smithfield and Bassett, near Martinsville.

Briggs also said she has had inquiries from other school systems, as far as Lancaster County. She stressed that the film is not geared specifically toward educators.

It will benefit anyone in the community, including business leaders, county leaders, parents and students themselves, Briggs said.

For more information, visit Isle of Wight School’s website,