Lewisburg continues to increase opportunities for students

Posted on September 10, 2019 7:03 PM


It started two years ago with the introduction of Ranger Academy, a program which allows students to explore their passions once a month. Students choose from a wide variety of courses, including JROTC taught by Colonel Triplett and Industrial Arts courses taught by the instructors at the Career and Technical Center (CTC). Adairville School started a similar program during the second semester last school year. 

Dr. Josh Matthews, principal at Lewisburg, states, “The program allows students an opportunity to explore their interests. The transition readiness part of the program, allowing students to be on the high school campus, is huge as well. I can’t thank Principal Spears, Colonel Triplett, and the entire CTC staff enough for helping make this possible.”

It is also a labor of love for the staff at Lewisburg. “Every decision our teachers and staff make is based on students,” Matthews continues. “The things we are doing at Lewisburg, including Ranger Academy, increase the workload of the staff, but I have never heard one complaint.” 

This year Lewisburg has started an Ag. Business class for middle school students. Since they live in a rural community, the class has seen significant interest from students. “The response has been great,” says Matthews. “The students are learning about the multifaceted world of agriculture and loving every minute of it.”

The school is also offering art class two days a week for all students and a leadership class taught by Dr. Matthews and Christy Lucas. According to Matthews, “The art class has been awesome; the kids actually requested an art class. Ms. Lucas and I are having fun getting an opportunity to work with our students in a different role. Normally, the principal and assistant principal don’t get an opportunity to be back in the classroom as instructors, so this is special for us.”

Lewisburg School has moved away from traditional instruction and more into a problem-based, individualized approach to education. The results have been amazing. For example, Lewisburg students earned great STAR assessment scores at the end of last school year. In fact, they led the district in several categories from kindergarten to 8th grade.

“We want students to move and enjoy school,” says Matthews. “It is important to engage students and make the work relevant to their lives. Problem-based learning allows students to search for answers instead of memorizing answers. The research is clear: When a student searches for answers, there is a deeper understanding of the content.”  

The school is using the Summit Learning platform to individualize instruction. Summit Learning was originally founded and supported by the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. Students are challenged to meet academic goals and obtain mastery of the curriculum.

“The program is tough; it requires students to not only know the material but also to apply their learning to a real-life situation,” says Matthews.

The school utilizes Summit in a different way than most other schools that have earned the grant. “We still believe in the power of teacher-led, student-centered instruction. The Summit platform is a resource to support our teaching. It allows students to review the material being taught in class and to work at their own pace, which can serve as remediation or enrichment,” says Matthews. However, Dr. Matthews doesn’t believe the best part of Summit is the educational advantage; instead, he believes it is the mentoring component. 

Matthews says, “In my opinion, the most beneficial part of Summit is the mentoring aspect. Our teachers are required to meet one-on-one with their students for at least 10 minutes every week. The students look forward to the mentoring time.” 

So, what’s next at Lewisburg?  According to Matthews, the school recently received the Toshiba American Foundation grant to build a structure on campus which will support a student-led business. The presentation is set for Sept. 12 at 9 a.m. The grant was written by Grace Harris, a Lewisburg Middle School science and math teacher.

“We will start construction on an outdoor pavilion very soon. The structure will be used as an outdoor classroom and a place where we can sell produce,” says Matthews. “We are hoping to plant our garden in the spring and start selling to the community by the end of the school year. Honestly, I am so proud of Ms. Harris for showing this type of initiative and we are all excited about getting the program started.” 

It is very clear that Lewisburg School is focused on more than just core content; that the administration, teachers, and staff are focused on developing the whole child. “I have said this, and I will keep saying: We will not be defined by a test score. Our success will be defined by the opportunities and learning experiences we offer our students. We understand teaching the curriculum is our job, and we do it very well, but what good is knowing the curriculum if you can’t apply it in a real-world situation? The opportunities we offer at Lewisburg give students a way of demonstrating and applying their learning in real-life situations.”                



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