Teacher’s sabbatical could bring distance learning to Pioneer

WARWICK — Despite budgetary concerns, the Pioneer Valley Regional School Committee granted Emily Beeman, head teacher in the world languages department at Pioneer, a sabbatical.

Nine members voted to approve her request, which would be for one year. One member, Sharon Fontaine, was opposed, with Robin L’Etoile abstaining.

Beeman intends to use the sabbatical to pursue her second master’s degree at Marlboro College.

Many of the members were initially concerned about how Beeman’s sabbatical would affect the budget. Superintendent Ruth Miller estimated it would cost the district between $4,000 and $14,000 more to pay Beeman half her salary, plus benefits, while hiring a substitute.

Through her sabbatical, however, Beeman said she would explore how two classrooms in different countries can unite to have class together using audio-video software like Skype, something that she hopes to one day implement at Pioneer. Committee members were supportive of her goals and felt supporting her sabbatical was to the ultimate benefit of Pioneer.

“Sometimes, in order to save money, you’ve got to spend money,” school committee member David Young said at a meeting last week. “Distance learning and technology is the future.”

“I just think it’s so important we understand how the world works,” added school committee member Martha Morse.

[Source:-The recorder]

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