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Pinellas school board candidate: Use technology as a resource



SP_316441_HO_benware High school reform and better use of technology are among the top-tier issues for Linda Dabney Benware, who filed last week to run for the Pinellas School Board at-large, District 2 seat.

Educators should not be afraid of some of the gizmos students use, the former teacher and principal told The Gradebook in a brief interview. Instead, they should incorporate them into instruction, much like the Pasco teacher in this St. Petersburg Times story did with cell phones.

“Technology is forcing us to look at the how of education,” said Benware, 63, who served as principal at both St. Petersburg High and St. Petersburg Collegiate High. “The iPhone, the smart phones, the e-readers … have launched us into this opportunity as to how we educate students as opposed to just the what.”

“When you have a student that’s very proficient at using his hand-held technology … and then he comes and we say, ‘No, you have to turn if off, you can’t use it’,” that’s not good, she continued. “We’ve got to merge that, not separate it. That’s one of my pushes.”

Benware also said she wants Pinellas to develop a long-term plan for its high schools. She cited the recent flare-up over a new fundamental high school, and the fact that both Dunedin High and Clearwater High are jockeying to join Osceola Fundamental High as the next one.

“I’m not saying that is wrong. When I was principal at St. Petersburg High, I certainly went after anything that benefited my school,” she said. “But as a school board member, I’d like to look at all 16 high schools.”

“I’d like to see Pinellas County take a strategic look and develop a strategic plan for the next five or 10 years for our high schools,” she continued, “and not just have a helter-skelter add this program or delete this program.”

Benware also touched on the school district’s reputation, which has taken some hits lately. “I remember when I used to read about Pinellas County and it was always the highest (district) or the best or on the cutting edge,” she said. “For probably a million reasons, we don’t have that reputation now. But we can get it back. Because we are a good county.”

[Last modified: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 10:45am]


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