NGA Press Release:
For Immediate Release
Date: March 25th, 2018
Sam Misher, Next Generation Academy Greensboro
Greensboro’s Newest Charter School Looks to Expand Boundaries in Literacy and Preparedness with Technocentric approach.
Greensboro, NC March 25, 2018- Next Generation Academy will open in August 2018 with a mission to inspire students to become productive 21st century literate citizens. The school will provide a strong foundation for change and innovation in education, with significant assistance from Secure Designs, Inc
While significant progress has been made over the last few years to extend broadband access to underserved communities and providing all sorts of 1:1 devices to aid learning in the “digital Classroom” one new charter school, a new charter school in Greensboro, NC is taking the approach that offering kids the latest-model laptop is not enough. Dr. Sam Misher, the visionary and driving force behind Next Generation Academy, believes what distinguishes the most innovative schools is what students and teachers do with the technology they have. Dr. Misher has created a school concept that will prepare children to shape the future, not get steamrolled by it. And his approach will not only empower students, but also parents ─ eventually remaking the entire community into stakeholders.
A major tenet of Next Generation Academy is recognizing there is a tremendous amount of power in literacy and education. All individuals should have an equal opportunity to learn and interact as literate individuals in society.
To be fully literate now and in the future, individuals need to be able to use both traditional and digital texts for literacy practices. Simply stated, students do not receive adequate opportunities in school to develop not only traditional literacies, but the literacies necessary to read, write, and participate on the wider internet community.
Dr. Misher and his team of educators at NGA have embraced the opportunity to redefine what it means to be literate in the advancing technological society and have identified personalized and focused one-to-one methods to educate, empower, and advocate for their students. These plans include the surrounding community, as students and families alike engage with digital and hybrid spaces. The aim of NGA is to ensure that technology does not become one more way to expand inequities, but rather than a bridge to narrow them.
As the Digital Divide narrows as far as broadband access at school is concerned, the so-called “homework gap” (the barriers students face when working on homework assignments without a reliable Internet source at home) remains a barrier to success. This gap has widened as an increasing number of schools incorporate Internet-based learning into daily curriculum. Three-fourths of school districts who have improved their broadband capability have done nothing to enable access to broadband outside of school (source: CoSN’s 2017infrastructure survey.)
According to a recent study from the Hispanic Heritage Foundation, Family Online Safety Institute and My College Options, nearly 50% of students say they have been unable to complete a homework assignment because they did not have access to the Internet or a computer. Furthermore, 42% of students say they received a lower grade on an assignment due to a lack of access.
The homework gap forces students in these household to head over to the library to squeeze in two more hours of homework instead of going home for dinner after a long sports practice. Some may decide to forgo the safety and warmth of their home to venture out to the commercial parking lot with free Wi-Fi access to complete and submit their assignment. Or many students are simply unable to finish the work.
Parents rely on the Internet to be informed on their child’s academic performance, with many schools turning to daily student performance reporting. NGA’s unique teaching techniques aimed at” across-the-board” literacy will involve capabilities to conduct webinars with parents that will instruct them on what they can do to help their students at home with reading and other assignments. NGA will implement a monitoring process that will monitor viewership, and track parental involvement and the achievement level of the students. In keeping with the individualized nature of the instruction, every effort will be made to align parental involvement with improving student outcomes.
NGA plans to address the lack of access to broadband at home through a unique partnership.
Secure Designs, Inc. is a Greensboro-based Cybersecurity company specializing in small-to-midsized organizations nationwide, with over 8,000 locations under management. Secure Design’s President and CEO, Larry Cecchini, has a history of taking on community-oriented projects. His proposed plan for municipal broadband service – entitled “Gig G” – eventually came in second to a City-sponsored competition, but as broadband for all of Greensboro has still proved to be an elusive goal, he, and Dr. Misher have joined forces to implement the benefits of broadband to NGA’s surrounding community where the majority of NGA’s students live.
SDI will act as a facilitator, leveraging its relationships with ISPs (internet Service Providers), the City of Greensboro, and other entities to extend broadband access the NGA community. Built within in a complete state-of-the-art secure wired and wireless network infrastructure, broadband access will not only be available at student’s homes, but also on the buses transporting NGA’s students between school and home.
SDI is also a strong advocate for more robust and effective cybersecurity measures in K-12 education, as it is the reality today that schools can no longer remain complacent about cybersecurity risks. Schools administrators nationwide have adopted technology to bring about new, innovative techniques of learning, but have built networks with innocent, but ultimately faulty assumptions about the need and effort required to protect digital assets and data. Next Generation Academy will receive a Next Generation Firewall (NGFW) with the ultimate United Threat Management capability, including the ability to inspect traffic from encrypted websites, Advanced Multi-Engine Sandboxing (from SonicWALL’s acclaimed CAPTURE service) protecting web traffic as well as email, and SDI’s own SDIQ, a SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) service, which uses machine learning to block threats in real time. These security features will also be part of the extended broadband service to the neighborhood as well. In addition, NGA teachers, staff, students, and parents will receive instructional training on how to maintain a safe presence online, and how to protect the network and its sensitive data by learning to spot potential “phishing” emails and maintaining proper password procedure.
The ranks of future cybersecurity professionals will come from the technically-literate children of today, and there really is no “too young” age to begin awareness of the issues. In recognizance of this, SDI will participate in preparing NGA’s students for a challenging and rewarding career in cybersecurity. SDI currently has active intern programs with local colleges and universities, apprenticeships with local high schools with technical training programs, and views this aspect of their partnership to be the next logical step in meeting demand for workers who can protect networks from criminal and malicious activity.
The school is located at 1414 Cliffwood Drive in the World Victory International Christian Center. For directions and more information call Sam Misher at (336) 271.9030 or visit the school website at www.nextgenerationacademy.net.