The school serves as a role model for learning institutions across the state and the US. FrontRow's technology helps increase student participation and academic outcomes while saving teachers' voices.
Orefield, Pennsylvania: As part of a broader commitment to student success, Kernsville Elementary teachers have been using advanced audio technology in classrooms to maximize student comprehension and achievement since last year. The technology clarifies teacher and student voices as well as media audio, which studies prove to dramatically increase academic performance.
Across schools globally, 25 percent of what the teacher says in class never reaches students' brains. In the back of the classroom or away from the instructor and presenters, the amount of missing information approaches 40 percent; Kernsville Elementary's adoption of FrontRow classroom audio to overcome this learning barrier is an indicator of its commitment to excellence. Among a multitude of benefits, the teacher and student microphones have shown a positive impact on students' reading and comprehension.
"Their [the students'] phonic skills have definitely improved because, when I use the microphone, they can hear those individual sounds. They're able to stretch out words a little more easily," says Kernsville first grade teacher Traci Falco. "They're able to spell words more easily. And they're able to read more fluently because they're clearly hearing all the sounds in their heads as they use the audio system."
Phonemic awareness — the ability to distinguish individual speech sounds — is a basic requirement for developing young skillful readers. It's hard to be aware of phonemes if you're not consistently and clearly hearing them. Because FrontRow sound systems increase speech clarity and phonemic awareness, they significantly enhance Kernsville Elementary's effectiveness of reading and spelling instruction.
A boost in confidence when using the student handheld microphone also plays a role in developing better young readers. "I love watching the struggling readers build more confidence in themselves and they volunteer a lot more because they feel like using the microphone makes them extra special; they get excited to do that," says Kernsville teacher Allison Davis. "A lot more hands go up in the air once I hand out the microphone, so they really love using it."
And classroom audio also addresses a costly reality that plagues schools nationwide: a high number of teacher sick days due to vocal disorders and voice attrition.
"With school children working in different parts of the room, you kind of feel the need to project a little more, which then therefore causes loss of voice and sore throat. So the audio system really just helps to make sure that your voice can reach the kids in all areas of the room," says Cathy Bendekovits, also a first grade teacher at the school.
In the US, $2.5 billion dollars are spent annually on sick leave for teachers with vocal problems and those teacher absences can create learning snags for students, as lessons lose cohesiveness; having a classroom audio system substantially curtails this number.
"When I didn't have my audio system, I would go home at night and my voice would be absolutely exhausted," shares Falco. "With a group of first graders, it's hard to be talking all day long and not go home without a raspy voice. Now with FrontRow's Juno system, I find that I don't have to project my voice quite as loudly and it's really saving on my vocal cords."
Kernsville Elementary's Principal Michael Gehringer notes the dramatic changes in school performance and how time and energy can be better distributed once the need for classroom audio is addressed.
"We use SWPBS, which is a school-wide positive behavior. With classroom audio in all learning spaces, we're able to really focus on those positives and there are a lot less negatives—because we're not stopping due to children not hearing what's going on. A teacher can act and speak in their normal tone and everyone is getting the same instruction or the same directions," shares Gehringer.
"Kernsville's results reflect how our classroom audio technology can provide a path for academic performance and educational success," says FrontRow CEO Jens Holstebro. "FrontRow is helping transform the modern classroom into a more successful space for learning, elevating teacher and student achievement."
When asked why he would encourage other principals and districts to adopt this education technology, Gehringer is fast to echo his teachers' findings and is keen on citing the increase in teacher and student engagement across the school. "It is going to get your students and your teachers actively engaged in the learning process, not only within the curriculum, but in the classroom, which is the most important thing."