D153 SMART lab drawing teachers from across the country

The two-year-old SMART lab at James Hart School in Homewood has given District 153 teachers Katie Nigro and Cheri Pesina an opportunity to show off the lab to teachers from across the United States.

District 153 designated it a SMART Lab because students set Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based goals.
  Katie Nigro, left, and Cheri Pesina show off the award
  they received for their cooperation with visiting 
  teachers who come to view the James Hart School
  SMART lab.
(Photo by Marilyn Thomas/H-F Chronicle)
The lab is designed in two parts – six weeks on creative media arts (CMA) in the District 153 broadcast studio and six weeks on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) issues in the computer lab. Pesina directs the CMA side of the SMART Lab and teacher Katie Nigro is the STEM lab facilitator.

The lab is in a space that had served as a library/media center for the former Millennium School, the west wing of the Hart building, 18220 Morgan Ave. When Millennium closed in 2016, Hart became a school for sixth, seventh and eighth graders.
The Millennium space underwent major renovations to bring in electrical service for all the lab computers. The district also constructed a small TV studio for CMA broadcasting projects.
Pesina said the District 153 lab has had guests from coast to coast come through about every other week at the invitation of Creative Learning Systems. The district invested $348,000 with Creative Learning Systems for the equipment and curriculum package that offers students nearly 400 topics called options of engagement: everything from the a discovery of the solar system to how to create a television program.
The faculty has welcomed teachers from Georgia, Texas, Washington and elsewhere who watch how Hart students are able to use the computer equipment and interact on projects.
“We let them observe, and then we’ll answer questions,” Nigro said. “We don’t have a presentation.” What the guests observe has usually wowed them, Pesina said.
In recognition of the district’s willingness to promote the SMART lab, Creative Learning Systems has been providing new computer programming at discounted rates.

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