District Invests in Technology to Enhance Learning Outcomes for Students

20 days ago

A student at Julia Goldstein Early Childhood Education Center uses an iPad to reflect on previous lessons.

Teachers learn how to use the U-Design Primary manipulatives during professional development.

The room was set. Tubs and boxes filled with brightly colored plastic pieces sat at each table. Snacks, note pads and pencils were plentiful. The facilitator was ready. The teachers arrived, some with apprehension lining their faces and others gleeful like children in a toy store. Welcome to professional development for U-Design Primary in The School District of University City.

U-Design Primary is just one of many technology-infused initiatives supporting learning in The School District of University City.

Superintendent Sharonica Hardin-Bartley, PhD PHR, is a strong advocate of technology in the classroom and has made innovation a top priority.

“There is no question that technology enhances student learning,” Hardin-Bartley said. “But technology for technology’s sake is not the goal. Our push for technology integration is rooted in improving learning for our students. The partnerships we have with Maryville University, PNC Bank, Washington University and others allow us to provide our students with authentic experiences that directly impact learning.”

The District was awarded a $55,000 grant from the Monsanto Fund’s K-12 Math & Science program to support STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) initiatives such as U-Design Primary in kindergarten, third and fifth grades.

U-Design Primary provides students with authentic STEAM experiences through the use of Motorized Mechanisms, We Do, and EV3 Lego Education modules. The modules support the District’s elementary science curriculum and are designed to strengthen STEAM confidence and aptitude.

Technology and innovation are evident throughout the District. The Robolions, University City High School’s FIRST (For the Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics Team is as popular as any sports team. The Robolions’ motto is, “We build robots, encourage innovation and have fun.”

At Pershing Elementary School, GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) students are learning basic coding in Scratch. Scratch is a free visual programming language developed by the MIT Media Lab. The students are developing problem-solving skills and mathematical reasoning as they program Dot and Dash robots to navigate obstacles and use a tablet-based application and Osmo in a simulation.

GATE students are also forming a tech team to train other students who are not in the program how to complete simple programs and create inventions through materials such as Snap Circuits and Little Bits. GATE teacher Melanie Bloom said the students’ leadership skills have improved as a result.

At Julia Goldstein Early Childhood Education Center, three- and four-year-olds are using iPads and other cameras to document and reflect on their work. The iPads were purchased with a PNC Bank Grow Up Great Grant that supports vocabulary development in early childhood.

“Our reflection helps support new vocabulary and concepts and allows teachers to really see things from our students’ perspective,” said teacher Dawn Pulsipher.

Jasmine Jones, a fifth-grade teacher at Jackson Park Elementary, uses Chromebooks and Google Classroom. Jones said students have some traditional assignments but others are on Google Classroom.

“This allows me to monitor their progress as they work and call them back as I see needed for assistance,” Jones said.

Jones also received a grant from Donorschoose.org allowing her to incorporate even more technology in her classroom.

“The students in my homeroom have the luxury of using 10 Samsung Galaxy tablets in allowing them to work on different skills they may have trouble in. The tablets are loaded with apps such as Quizlet, BrainPop, Lexia and other grade-level common core apps to help students become advanced learners,” she said. “The tablets also help me with students who are quick finishers; I am able to provide them with additional stimulating activities.”

In addition to the tablets and Chromebooks, Jones’ students also participate in robotics using Lego robotics kits purchased by the District.

“They absolutely love building their base bots, but found the programming part hard at the beginning of the school year. But they have become pros at it now,” she said.

Alexis McGeahy is a French teacher at Brittany Woods Middle School. She uses technology to allow her students to record themselves speaking French.

“This gives me more opportunities to hear everyone’s pronunciation without having to always use class time,” McGeahy said. “ We also do interactive online lessons with websites like Voki, Voicethread, and Padlet. The kids also really love to play review games using their computers (Quizlet Live, Kahoot, and Verb Conjugation games on Conjuguemos). We also use online databases like Culturegrams to explore culture of Francophone countries.”

Equations is the name of the game for Flynn Park Elementary students. Equations is a game of creative mathematics and involves authentic learning experiences and problem solving at the highest levels. The Flynn Park Equations team competes regularly in the U City Equations Tournament now in its 20th year. The Flynn Park third-grade team, The Equators, scored a fourth-place finish in the Top Tier Teams category this year. The Equators are coached by Cate Williamson. Isaiah Sweeney, a Flynn Park student, won first place in the Top Tier Individual category for the fifth-grade. His coach is Matt Sweeney. Former Flynn Park parents Tom and Mary Ellen Campbell founded the District’s first Equations team at Flynn Park Elementary School more than 20 years ago.

The District began its push for technology integration in 2015 with a 1:1 device initiative at the middle and high school. Students were provided with individual Chromebooks to support learning as part of the initiative. To support that effort, the District is investing in mobile hotspots to extend learning into homes without Internet access.

Barbara C. Jordan Elementary students have embraced technology in the classroom.

Flynn Park Elementary students work together at an Equations practice session before a competition at UCHS.

Jackson Park Elementary teacher Jasmine Jones uses Chromebooks and Google for Education to support classroom instruction.

Pershing Elementary students in Melanie Bloom’s classroom program Dot and Dash robots using basic Scratch coding.

Brittany Woods Middle School students collaborate on projects using iPads.

University City High School Robolions are gearing-up for regional robotics competition.


  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
  • 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners
    Congratulations to 2017 MLK Student Leadership Award Winners who were recognized during the Feb. 16, 2017 Board of Education Meeting.
Mark Your Calendar: May 20, 2017
Mark Your Calendar: May 20, 2017
School PTOs are starting to sell tickets... watch for more request forms in schools and social media. Questions, call 314-290-4001 or email communications@ucityschools.org.

Meet the 2017 Board of Education Candidates

20 days ago

Five residents have filed for candidacy in the April 4, 2017, bid for three, three-year seats on the University City Board of Education. The seats are currently occupied by President Lisa Brenner, Vice President Charlotte Tatum and Director George Lenard. The candidates, in order of filing, submitted the following statements:

Charlotte Tatum

Lisa Brenner

George Lenard

Diarra Morris

Chelsea Addison




Charlotte Tatum:

I am seeking re-election to serve on the University City School Board. As a committed and dedicated school board member, my top priority is to ensure that each child receives a quality education.

Prior to being elected to the school board I was a 27 year employee serving most of the time as the Administrative Coordinator to the Board of Education. I also served in the following capacities: 2010 Boundary Committee, 2012 Prop U Campaign, facilitator for LifePlan and a mentor for students at Brittany Woods and UCHS. I was named the 2011-2012 Educational Support Personnel of the Year, awarded the 2012-2013 Superintendent’s Choice award and the 2011-2012 PACEsetter award. I was a member of the National School Boards Association and a commissioner for U City Arts & Letters.

During my first term, we worked to remain fully accredited, maintained a fiscally sound budget, supported selling a district building and hired our current superintendent, Sharonica Hardin-Bartley. While on the school board I’ve served on the following committees: Martin Luther King Spirit Award, Bond Construction, and Policy. In addition, I also served as the Board Liaison to Barbara Jordan, Pershing and Julia Goldstein.

We are moving in the right direction by maintaining full accreditation but there is still much work to be done. We must understand that our top priority is a quality education for all students and we must not waiver while seeking to attain that goal.

I will continue to address: academic performance; ways to expand our early childhood program to include more district preschool children; methods to improve parental involvement; and evaluate the effectiveness of curriculum and instruction; transforming the life of every student every day ensuring all students graduate college and career ready, as well as listen to all stakeholders.

I hope I can count on your continued input and support!


Lisa Brenner:

I have been honored to serve as a Board Director for the School District of University City these last three years and Board President the last two. For those of you who do not know me, I am a 20 year resident of University City, parent of two University City High School students (Johanna and Nathan Hill), 12 year parent volunteer including being a Girl Scout leader for 7 years, wife and daughter of educators, and a psychologist who served as a Director of Children Services at a community mental health center and currently owns and runs a private practice.

During these last three years, it has become infinitely clear to me that high quality school districts are governed by boards that keep a laser focus on student achievement and needs. Successful boards provide structure through vision and clear goals, give the superintendent and her staff the authority to implement the vision and goals, and hold the superintendent accountable for achieving outcomes. Fiscally responsible boards must allocate limited resources to maximize student achievement.

This district is in a very exciting place as we zero in on what it means to transform the lives of our children. We are evolving our curriculum and climate to nurture our children’s critical thinking, imaginations, soft skills, and problem solving so they can be prepared to be successful as adults in a rapidly evolving world. I will continue to advocate for educational practices that have been proven by research to increase achievement. This includes universal pre-K, which indisputably boosts academic achievement for economically disadvantaged children.

We all share a common interest in the well being of our children, our community, and our future. I am committed to ensuring our schools meet the expectations of that common interest.


George Lenard:

Electing me to a second Board term will ensure our District continues on the path of progress. I will continue my dedicated, fair, and experienced leadership supporting the innovative work now underway in the District. I am committed to continuous improvement and will continue striving to achieve further improvements and savings.

We must improve because we aim much higher than just keeping accreditation. I will work to ensure the best possible schooling for all students.

We must improve the quality of instruction. I will ensure the District hires good teachers and improves them through professional development.

I will continue being a good steward of taxpayer money, to provide the best education possible with available resources.

I will work to make sure that our students are in classrooms learning every day they are physically able. This means improving attendance and reducing ineffective out-of-school suspensions in favor of more effective restorative justice and trauma-informed disciplinary practices. I will ensure we continue to meet students’ social and emotional needs in order to reduce disciplinary incidents.

We must strengthen instruction in core subjects while maintaining robust arts and extracurricular opportunities. I support efforts underway, such as Project Lead the Way, to improve teaching of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics (STEAM).

In my first term, I helped lead a number of important actions such as improving the Board’s legislative advocacy, starting to develop private supplemental revenue, and maintaining classroom safety without pushing students down the school-to-prison pipeline. I serve as a Board representative to the City’s Economic Development and Retail Sales Tax Board, on the District’s Finance and Budget Committee, and am currently the only attorney on the Board.

As I campaign, I look forward to hearing your thoughts and concerns about our school district. I am available by email at glenard@ucityschool.org.


Diarra Morris:

I grew up in University City and graduated from University City High School in 1991. I always wanted the same for my own children. Today I am proud to say that three of my four children are also graduates. As a parent in the district for 20 years, I have experienced first-hand, the struggles and critical issues our schools face at every level. I acknowledge, based on my historical perspective, that there are some hard challenges. But there are many more opportunities.

My children’s experience in the district was far different than mine. The experience our students are having now is very different from that of my children. Our district is at a very critical point. I believe that parental empowerment is directly linked to the success of any district and a school board that enacts policy that truly reflects, fosters an understanding of and demands accountability around this concept is essential.

Board members must be deeply aware of and sensitive to the needs of the students and families served, be good stewards of public resources and be relentless in the effort to provide the best education possible for all students. That is my commitment should I be elected to the Board.

I earned my Bachelor of Science degree in Sports Management from Fontbonne University. My professional experience includes the coordination and implementation of learning and development strategies at a corporate level and I am a strong advocate of education innovation.

I previously served as League Organizer of the Redbird Rookies Baseball program for two years and volunteered my time as the manager of my sons’ baseball teams. I have also gained deep insight into our district through my volunteer efforts in schools over the years.

I want to work with the administration, our partners and members of the board to ensure that every child has a superlative experience in The School District of University City. Our students deserve that.


Chelsea Addison:

Dear Neighbor,

As a teacher, entrepreneur and connector, I am interested in providing unique opportunities for students and teachers to gain access to resources and achieve measurable growth. I believe it takes a village to ensure students are well prepared for their future. I have seen the power of providing a platform where parents, students, teachers, and the community work together to develop the whole child.

I am not a career politician or a partisan politics insider; I am an educator and product of life changing teachers, a long family line of educators, and community builders. That is why I’ve devoted my career to education – I want to ensure future generations have the same opportunities as me. As a teacher, I work with families, students, and the community to ensure my students develop critical thinking skills and make considerable academic growth. I invite the community into the classroom and parents invite me into their home to develop strategies to improve their child’s academic and social development. We do this because we recognize the importance of providing students a well-rounded education tailored to the needs of each individual student.

Students in our community deserve the skills to better prepare them for the paths they choose after leaving our district. We can expand course offerings, providing our kids with the skills they need to compete in a global economy. We can ensure our teachers have the support and resources they need to prepare our students for success. We can provide families with resources earlier on to ensure preparations are in place. On the Board, I plan to bring innovative ideas and fresh initiatives so we can not only be in communication with parents, but give them the resources they need to be better advocates for their children. Not only can we provide technology in the classroom we can but equip teachers to effectively use these tools. We support teachers to not just teach to a test, but we can provide experiential learning opportunities in person or through tech to prepare students for a brighter future.

I look forward to hearing from you. I want to know what’s working well and where you’re concerned. Together we can work towards a stronger University City. On April 4th, I hope I can count on your vote.

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