The school, her office, these things are small but Ina Lane’s ideas about education are big. Lane, CamTech High School’s principal since 2006, has a lot of big ideas about how to teach kids to learn, and those ideas seem to be rubbing off on her students.
If you follow Lane into one of her CamTech classrooms, there isn’t a student she doesn’t know, nor is there a student who is unhappy to see the principal.
“I have 165 students and I know every single one of them,” she says.
Her approach to educating these kids is boots on the ground. While she has her administrative duties to fulfill, she’s on the ground floor with her kids — she calls them “my kids” — following their progress every step of the way. Lane says her objective is to prepare these students for a global marketplace but perhaps more importantly, infuse them with a lifelong love of learning.
The Daily Advance: What year did you begin teaching?
Ina Lane: I started teaching in 1985. I actually started in private school at first. In 1993 I entered the public school realm, and actually worked at central office for two years. I was the community schools coordinator (Camden County) and HR director. In 1994 my oldest son died tragically and I knew I needed to get back in the classroom. I interviewed for the position and was hired as an English teacher at the high school.
TDA: What has been your greatest challenge as an educator?
IL: I think now there is so much change happening so quickly. I don’t know that education in American has a clear objective. We’re caught between what we did in the 1950s and 60s and what we’re trying to do now; is produce citizens that are globally aware and globally marketable.
TDA: What are the greatest challenges facing education today?
IL: Before you can revamp or remodel, whatever you want to call it, you’ve got to have a plan. I would love to see us come to a meeting of the minds so we can have direction.
TDA: Describe the mission of CamTech High School.
IL: The curriculum is all honors. Our objective is to produce global citizens with a lifelong passion for learning. I believe that our mission here is to help children look outside their box and get a feel for what is out in the world.
TDA: Tell us why CamTech is different from Camden County High School.
IL: First and foremost because we are so small. We also have the one-to-one computer ratio to kids. Now that computer is a tool just like a textbook. Through CamTech we have to help our kids with collaboration and the other thing is presentation. The main difference between the two schools is that the foundation of our instructional presentation is project-based learning, which incorporates collaboration, research, presentations, and a product. The students work in teams of three to four students for a determined length of time to research and produce a product that represents their ideas, and then they present that to the class.
TDA: What do CamTech students get that other high school students might not receive?
IL: I think it is the collaboration, the ability to do the teamwork. I think my children are empowered when they leave here, empowered to use tech responsibly and they are confident in their abilities to move on as students or employees. If my kids take anything from me it is that they are advocating for themselves and that they are tolerant of other human beings.
TDA: Students today are facing an increasingly competitive job market. What can secondary institutes of learning provide that they do not currently provide to assist these students?
IL: That is a difficult question. I think a variety of things and I think we are learning to do that because we offer courses through NC Virtual Learning. If the high school can just lead the student to keep an open mind that will help them to understand you can keep doors open. You can’t teach motivation but you can model enthusiasm.
TDA: A lot of the political rhetoric these days suggests that the sole purpose of education is to prepare a person for the job market. Is that the sole purpose of education? Why or why not?
IL: No sir, it’s not the sole purpose of education. If we do not instill a passion for learning for life then we have failed our children. There is nothing better than to watch a kid enjoy life.
TDA: Vocational education is a big concern for a lot of people today. Should high schools put more emphasis on vocational training? Why or why not?
IL: I think that they should put emphasis on it. However, you cannot preclude anything. You have to education the whole being.
TDA: You’re a grandparent. What is your hope for your grandchildren’s future where education is concerned?
IL: I hope that my grandchildren will love learning and right now I see that they do.
TDA: It seems that schools are always struggling with encouraging parental involvement. What are things parents can do at home to help their children succeed in school and out in the world?
IL: Communicate. As your children everyday what he did in school. Teens are notorious to not communicate but you’re telling them that you care.
TDA: What do you believe education will look like 20 years from now?
IL: I’ve thought so much about this. I don’t think the traditional high school will look like it does today. We will have a blended high school. You’re going to add two years to that but in that process you are going to pursue academia if you wish or you will graduate with a skill and ready to move into the job market.