21st century program wins national recognition

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 29, 2011

By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY — The Rowan Salisbury School System’s 21st century learning program is getting national attention.
The program was recently named an Apple Exemplary Program, a designation that recognizes exemplary examples of the use of Apple products in teaching and learning.
“The selection of the Rowan-Salisbury schools 21st century program highlights the success that you guys are continously possessing and modeling,” Janice Adams, education development executive for Apple, said.
The district is one of 40 in the nation to receive the honor.
“We want to reconize programs that are viewed as innovative by other educators and this one definitely falls into that category,” Adams said.
There are currently 38 21st century model classrooms in the school system, with at least one at every school.
The classrooms contain iPod Touches, MacBooks, Promethean interactive boards, documents cameras, digital camera and video cameras.
Teachers for the program are chosen through an application process. The school system’s website says those selected must “demonstrate a strong interest in integrating and differentiating their curriculum through the use of technology.”
Phil Hardin, the school system’s technology director, said the classrooms act as a springboard with teachers serving as models to support staff development throughout their school.
Adams said the program has demonstrated “visionary leadership” by getting both administrators and teachers on board.
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Anthony Johnson, a technology facilitator at Overton Elementary School has also been selected as an Apple Distinguished Educator for the class of 2011.
Adams said Johnson is one of 1,500 educators to receive the distinction worldwide.
“Anthony is going to have a large fellowship or sisters and brothers as he continues to develop the use of technology in his school,” she said.
Adams said he’ll serve as an advocate for technology use in the classroom and acts as an advisor to Apple to innovate and simplify the technology that Apple builds.
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Hardin said the school’s technology initiatives have grown tremendously in the past five year.
The number of handheld devices such as iPods jumped from 157 in 2005-06 to 4,430 in 2010-11, an increase of 2,722 percent.
The majority of that growth can be attributed to the iPod touch program at North Rowan High School.
The program began in 2008-09 when iPods were distributed to 200 freshman at North Rowan, 10 core subject area teacher, four resource teachers and administrators.
The program expanded to sophomores in August 2009.
The entire school was equipped with an iPod at the start of this year, thanks to a grant from the Golden LEAF Foundation.
The iPod touch program expanded to eighth-graders at North Rowan Middle School last fall and seventh-graders this spring.
Sixth- and seventh-grade students at Knox Middle and fourth and fifth-grader at Overton Elementary are also currently using the program.
Knox eighth-graders and Overton third-graders are expected to be issued iPods this fall.
“We felt that it was important to branch out to other places and expand the program,” Hardin said. “We are putting it in schools where we truely believe that it will make a difference.”
Hardin said the program is also targeting schools where students might not have access to this kind of technology.
The introduction of the wireless Internet bus at North Rowan has been another positive addition to the technology program, Hardin said. He said the program allows students to do work on the road and take notes at their destination.
“Students are engaged from the time they leave the building to the time they return,” he said.
Hardin said the increase in technology within the school system has gotten students excited about learning by keeping them engaged with hand-on activities.
“If you tour those classrooms and talk to the kids they’ll tell you they’re having fun,” he said. “We know that it’s making a difference.”
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.