Monday, May 20, 2013

New Rhode Island Classroom Proves Instructive

Rhode Island Classroom explores the latest technology, lessons, and personnel who are making the grade in Rhode Island Kindergarten through grade 12 classrooms. The new 30-minute quarterly series, hosted by Margie O'Brien and produced by WSBE Rhode Island PBS, premieres Thursday, May 23 at 8 p.m., with rebroadcast Saturday, May 25 at noon.

Five independent stories are woven into the first episode, giving viewers insight into programs, projects, and initiatives that are sparking learning excellence in Rhode Island classrooms.

"I’m excited to be part of Rhode Island Classroom," said host Margie O'Brien. "It gives me an opportunity to profile the best programs and teachers in Rhode Island."

One of those programs is a statewide mentoring initiative aimed at empowering first-year teachers. The Rhode Island Classroom segment features a seasoned educator using his experience and enthusiasm to help elevate first year teachers from a status of 'good' to 'excellent' at a faster pace.

O'Brien also sits down with Education Commissioner Deborah Gist. Back to work after a life-threatening prognosis, Gist is ready to transform education here in the Ocean State. With critics fighting her every move, Gist is moving forward with standardized tests, teacher evaluations, and even pushing for full day Kindergarten.

Imagine the stimulating conversation 100 educators could create if they were able to chat for an hour? It's happening, weekly, thanks to social media and technology. Every Sunday night, EDChatRI, a Twitter site, allows teachers, administrators – even students – to discuss pertinent lessons and policies. Rhode Island Classroom introduces the faces behind the Tweets.

O'Brien said viewers will be dumbfounded over how students at Community Prep solve math problems. The Calculator Club, founded by Dan Corley, challenges students to solve problems in their heads before the calculator gets the answer.

Rounding out the first show is a visit to a school where the lines are blurred between the stereotypical cliques of nerds, jocks, geeks, and popular kids. Rhode Island Classroom shows what appearing in a school play can do for the acceptance and confidence levels of a high schooler.

Future episodes of Rhode Island Classroom will explore new programs, people, and policies that are improving education.

WSBE Rhode Island PBS transmits standard-definition (SD) and high-definition (HD) programming over the air on digital 36.1; on Rhode Island cable services: Cox 08 / 1008HD, Verizon FiOS 08 / 508HD, Full Channel 08; on Massachusetts cable services: Comcast 819HD, Verizon 18 / 518HD; on satellite: DirecTV 36 / 3128HD, Dish Network 7776. WSBE Learn transmits over the air on digital 36.2; on cable: Cox 808, Verizon 478, Full Channel 89, Comcast 294 or 312.

About host Margie O’Brien
Margie O'Brien is a proven communications professional. She has worked as a news reporter and anchor in both the Providence and Boston markets for 16 years. She has hosted TV shows, been a political campaign spokesperson, and served the communications coordinator for a Rhode Island-based non-profit.

Margie is active with McCauley House, as well as serving as a volunteer coach with the YMCA and local Recreation Department. 

Ms. O'Brien received a Bachelor’s degree from St. Anselm College and a Masters Degree in Communications / Broadcast Journalism from Emerson College. Margie lives in Barrington with her husband, three children, and golden retriever, Callie.

About WSBE Rhode Island PBS
WSBE Rhode Island PBS is operated by the Rhode Island PBS Foundation, a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization, established in 1987 as a public charity to raise funds and provide support services for Rhode Island’s public television station. WSBE-DT is a viewer-supported member of the PBS system of public broadcasting stations, and transmits on two channels: Rhode Island PBS (digital 36.1) and Learn (digital 36.2). Committed to lifelong learning since 1967, WSBE Rhode Island PBS uses the power of noncommercial media to educate, engage, enrich, inspire, and entertain viewers of all ages in Rhode Island, southeastern Massachusetts, and eastern Connecticut. For more information about the programs and services at WSBE, visit