An audience nearly double the size of last week's Macomb CUSD #185 superintendent candidate public forum attended Monday's question-and-answer session for Patrick Twomey.
Twomey, currently the superintendent of the Havana School District #126, resides in Macomb and is already well-known in the community. He served as assistant principal and later principal of Macomb High School before taking the helm of the Havana School District. Prior to becoming an administrator he taught sixth-grade at Macomb's Edison School.
Many of the question topics, such as block scheduling, professional development and agriculture education, posed to Twomey during the hour-and-15-minute forum held at the Spoon River College Outreach Center were the same as those asked of Chet Lien last week.
In response to a question pertaining to the "flipped" classroom model he implemented at Havana High School in August, Twomey said the innovative concept is improving student performance.
In a flipped classroom model, lessons are delivered to students outside of regular class time, either through a video, an assigned reading, or an independent activity. The flipped model eliminates the in-class time devoted to lesson delivery — anywhere from 15 to 25 minutes — and the entire class period is spent on activities that support the lesson's objective.
In a traditional classroom, teachers deliver a lesson in class, provide guided practice, then send homework home with students.
Following the forum, Twomey said he wasn't sure if the flipped classroom model would work at Macomb High School. The reason the concept was implemented at Havana High School, he said, was because too many at-risk students — 65 percent of high school students receive free or reduced lunches — were not receiving adequate homework support and time at home. As a result, students were struggling on standardized test scores.
"Over the course of the last four years we've had incremental growth at the high school every one of those years," he said, "but neither the high school principal or myself were satisfied even with those results, so we were looking at a that would help the children, who were coming out of those high-poverty homes, perform better in school."
While he was uncertain the flipped model would work in Macomb, Twomey did say it could work in individual classrooms.
"Flipping would certainly work here in individual teachers' classrooms, which is the model throughout the country right now," he said. "We're just happening to get a lot of national attention right now because we were the first high school in the country to adopt it as a whole model all one year. We're having a great deal of success with it."
One in the audience at Monday's forum said she was pleased with what she heard from Twomey. Sara Rigg of Macomb also attended last Thursday's forum for Chet Lien. She said she liked Twomey's prior experience as a local teacher and administrator.
"I would say that he has a little bit more experience in that role," she said, "and his ideas seem to be more of an instructional standpoint."
Rigg liked the idea of flipped classrooms.
"I think it's great model," she said. "I've actually heard some information about it before tonight, and I hear it's been very successful in Havana. I think it offers a lot of opportunities for the Macomb School District as well."
Rigg, who is a part of the Macomb Agriscience Association, a group working to re-establish an agriculture program at Macomb High School, also said she liked hearing Twomey's positive response to a question asking if he would support an ag program at Macomb High School.
"I was very excited to hear that we have a potential opportunity to bring ag education to the forefront at Macomb High," she said.
The final superintendent candidate forum will be held 5:30 to 6:45 tonight at the Spoon River College Outreach Center. Guests will have the opportunity to present questions to Dr. Chad Allaman, who is currently the superintendent at Central School District #51 in Washington.