Lee's Summit Journal

R-7 parents can now monitor Chromebooks outside school hours

Former pro basketball player Clay Johnson spoke to Blue Springs students and signed a poster for a student.
Former pro basketball player Clay Johnson spoke to Blue Springs students and signed a poster for a student. Courtesy photo

New tool for parents

Lee’s Summit parents have a new tool to control how their children use school-issued computer devices at home.

School-issued devices are useful to guarantee that students — regardless of income — can do internet research, learn the latest applications and plug into lessons for the day. They also standardize the technology for everyone.

But the computers also have the potential to expose children to inappropriate internet sites and keep them up way too late at night.

During school hours, the Lee’s Summit R-7 School District uses an internet filter called Securly to shield students from inappropriate material while using their school-issued Chromebooks.

“After listening to parent and community feedback on students’ technology use,” the district said in a news release, “we are pleased to announce that parents and guardians will now have access to Securly Home, a feature allowing visibility and control of their child’s internet access at home while on the district-issued Chromebook. Securly Home is now part of the software solution the district is currently subscribing to on an annual basis.”

Among the features:

▪ Emails sent to parents each Monday that summarize their child’s previous week of Internet activity and searches. Parents will also be able to see any content that was flagged for bullying, self-harm or suicide.

▪ A parent portal or downloadable app that gives parents real-time information on what their children are doing on the internet.

▪ The ability to modify some internet filter settings when the Chromebook is being used away from school.

“For example,” the district said, “if parents want the Chromebook turned off at 7 p.m. each night, they can simply click a button in the Securly Home app.”

    Families should have received a “welcome” email from Securly on April 23.

    Academics alone isn’t enough

    Two Lee’s Summit administrators have returned from Nashville, where they joined more than 100 school district administrators for a dialogue on “social and emotional learning,” or SEL, and its potential to address the needs of the whole child. Those needs include physical and mental health as well as lifelong-learning skills.

    Staci Mathes, executive director of special services for the R-7 district, and Rexanne Hill, executive director of student support, participated in the first-ever AASA Social and Emotional Learning Cohort held earlier this spring.

    “No one can argue that this is one of the most critical fields in public education,” said Mort Sherman of AASA, The School Superintendents Association. “We are hoping to grow this new cohort with leaders who are the leading innovators and risk-takers in the field of SEL.”

    Mathes, Hill and the others listened to speakers and had the opportunity to visit classrooms to see social and emotional learning firsthand.

    “It was an honor to take part in this meeting to share best practices and key strategies about one of the most critical issues in public education today,” Mathes said, echoing Sherman. “I was proud to join my peers from coast to coast as we reflected on how to address the support structure around social-emotional learning.”

    Blue Springs SOM hails from Lee’s Summit

    The Blue Springs School District named its Student of the Month for April, and it was seventh-grader Caysen Stevenson from Delta Woods Middle School in Lee’s Summit.

    A Facebook post from the district describes the Lee’s Summit resident as “a true leader in the classroom and school community.”

    “He is someone who does everything the right way,” said social studies teacher Blake Whitney. “What sets Caysen apart from others is that he is also doing his best to make sure those around him succeed. He is willing to put the needs of others in front of his own needs.”

    Girl Scouts go high-tech

    NIC Inc. of Olathe hosted 45 Girl Scouts last month at its fifth annual Girl Scouts Spark event, where they learned something about how computer codes make Amazon’s Alexa so smart.

    The girls came from troops from across the Kansas City area, including Johnson, Jackson and Cass counties.

    The company said it taught the Girl Scouts “how to work in a coding environment for voice-activated Amazon Alexa skills, and learn what it takes to build their own Alexa skill.” They also took a virtual reality tour of the Kansas Capitol and experienced NIC’s Innovation Lab.

    The regional Girl Scout organization collaborates with businesses like NIC — which helps government agencies nationwide do business digitally — to host Spark events that create awareness of career opportunities in science, technology, engineering and math.

    Tech gathering for urban boys

    Middle and high school boys from throughout the area are invited to the Brothers In Technology Conference from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. May 15 at the Missouri Innovation Campus in Lee’s Summit. The gathering is designed to engage urban boys, ages 13-18, with technology to bridge the digital literacy divide and to encourage them to consider careers in science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics.

    It’s hosted by the University of Central Missouri Gigabit Lab and Urban TEC. Workshops will include computer-aided design, robotics, coding/programming, virtual reality, circuit boards and audio-engineering. Registration and breakfast will begin at 8 a.m. at the innovation campus, 1101 N.W. Innovation Parkway. For more information, contact Ina P. Montgomery at kcbitgathering@gmail.com or 816-533-5693.

    Basketball, and life lessons

    Students at the Blue Springs Freshman Center heard from former Los Angeles Lakers player Clay Johnson, who visited the school last week.

    Johnson attended high school in Kansas City, played for the University of Missouri and spent three seasons in the NBA — two with the Lakers and one with the Seattle SuperSonics. He spoke to a Career & College Readiness class about his personal story, being a member of the Lakers’ 1982 NBA championship team, and the dedication it takes to achieve goals, the school district said on Facebook.

    Joining him was Carla Mebane of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, who focused on college preparedness and ways to earn credit while still in high school.