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Grant putting technology in trained student, teacher hands

By Steve Herring
Published in News on July 15, 2012 1:50 AM

Wayne County Public Schools' sizable military student population is enabling the system to add more than $1 million in instructional technology that will benefit all students at seven county schools.

School board members Monday night were updated on the $1.6 million Department of Defense Education Activity Educational Partnership grant the system has received.

The county had to meet two criteria to get the grant. First the school district's military population had to be at least 5 percent. It is 10 percent in Wayne County.

The second was that a school's military student population had to be at least 15 percent to qualify. Seven county schools with military student populations ranging from a low of 15.02 percent to a high of 45.09 percent qualified to be part of the program.

They are Greenwood Middle, 21.96 percent; Meadow Lane Elementary, 45.09 percent; Northeast Elementary, 16.76 percent; Northwest Elementary, 24.45 percent; Norwayne Middle, 15.02 percent; Tommy's Road Elementary, 17.84 percent; and Wayne School of Engineering, 16.05 percent.

The bulk of the funding, slightly more than $1 million over three years, will be used for instructional technology including teacher iPads, classroom iPad carts/charging stations, LCD monitors/Apple TV bundle, apps, wi-fi access points, support training, installation/warranties/service agreements and incidental technology costs.

Another $150,000 will be used for personal development for 120 teachers and substitutes and will pay for someone from East Carolina University to help provide the monthly development training, said Ken Derksen, the system's public information officer.

Other costs will include: $193,026 for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) learning centers; $28,524 for a digital media program at the Wayne School of Engineering; $184,500 for a STEM instructional liaison/project director; $53,100 for a third-party evaluator; and $3,000 for a required Department of Defense Education Activity meeting.

"We hope to have most of the technology in place before the end of the school year," Derksen said. "The grant's purpose and goal for this $1.6 million grant is simply to infuse STEM concepts, principles and technology into the common instructional framework at the seven schools.

The common instructional framework is for teachers to have more planing time and for teachers to work together for project-based learning, he said.

There are three outcomes that school officials expect from the program, Derksen said.

The first is cooperative learning and problem solving and the second is to give students access to instructional technology, he said.

"The third outcome is to basically increase student achievement where these students are performing at or above grade level with end-of-grade course tests," Derksen said. "We will provide regular and relevant robust professional development to teachers at these schools.

"We don't want to just put the technology in their hands and expect them to know how to use it. We don't want to equip them with the technology and expect them to figure out how they are going to use it in instruction. We are going to provide monthly professional development."

The grant has two strategies: Expand the Wayne School of Engineering common instructional framework to the other schools affected by the grant while providing regular and professional training/support, he said.

It also will equip 159 classrooms and media centers with an Apple TV 70-inch wall monitor bundle, he said. It would equip 247 core area teachers, six media coordinators and 10 counselors with instructional Apple iPads.

Also, 17 Apple iPad Learning labs would be created each including 30 student iPads with synching and charging stations.

The second strategy would equip STEM learning centers at Greenwood Middle and Wayne School of Engineering. Also, the Wayne School of Engineering would offer a high school digital media program and offer senior internships with Wayne County Education Alliance channel.