Rowan-Salisbury teachers receive new laptops for next school year

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, June 13, 2017

By Rebecca Rider

SALISBURY — When Meredith Abramson logged onto her new laptop for the first time, she put her hands up in a “raise the roof” gesture.

“All systems go,” she said.

Abramson, an art teacher at Erwin Middle School, sat at a table in the school system’s cavernous North Long Street warehouse, working to get the new device up and running. Meredith Burris, technology facilitator at Rockwell Elementary, helped walk her through the process.

Abramson was one of more than 1,600 teachers and staff members who received laptops Monday, according to Andrew Smith, chief strategy officer for Rowan-Salisbury Schools. It’s the second laptop “rollout” for the school system, and things are a lot more streamlined than they were three years ago.

“The goal is to have people in and out of here in about 15 minutes,” Smith said.

Faculty and staff from each school were bused to the warehouse in shifts throughout the day. Each held a piece of paper, which Smith called “a golden ticket,” detailing which devices they had previously and which they would receive.

“School’s out for summer; we’re getting new devices. What could be better?” Abramson asked as she turned in her old laptop.

Superintendent Lynn Moody said the district chose to hand out devices Monday to allow teachers the entire summer to become comfortable with them.

“It’s a great way to end the year and get them excited about the next year,” she said.

And some teachers pulled double duty when it came to technology. As a middle school teacher, Abramson received a laptop and an iPad for use in planning lessons and teaching in the classroom.

“They have been a great tool for me, professionally,” she said.

But it wasn’t always that way. Abramson said when the devices first rolled out three years ago, she was a bit stumped about how she could incorporate them into her classroom.

“When you think of art, you think of tactile experiences,” she said. “So when they rolled these out a few years ago, I was kind of reluctant.”

Abramson spent time watching other teachers and doing research. Now, she uses videos of her lessons to make concepts more accessible to students with different learning styles.

“When they give us the latest and best, it makes our jobs easier,” she said.

This new round of laptops and iPads is part of the school system’s renewal of a three-year lease with Apple Inc. The Board of Education approved the $13 million lease, which provides devices to teachers and students, earlier this spring. The previous generation of laptops and iPads was sold to PowerHouse Recycling for $4.5 million.

This time, laptops for teachers have larger screens and more memory — two features Moody said teachers requested.

“I think that now we can go a lot deeper,” she said.

When Faith Collins, a second-grade teacher at Cleveland Elementary, was asked what she uses her laptop for, she laughed.

“Everything,” she said. “I use it for research, staying connected with the other teachers, as well as staying up to date on the latest teaching techniques.”

Collins said she plans to use her new laptop for lesson planning this summer.

Ken Rufty, a career and technology education teacher at Erwin Middle School said, “The laptops are an integral tool in all that we do. I use my laptop for lesson planning and to research careers, and the kids use their iPads to do career research as well. It’s really important because I’m preparing kids for the most important thing — getting them ready for their future.”

And this time, most Rowan-Salisbury teachers follow in Abramson, Collins and Rufty’s footsteps. Technology in the classroom is now just a way of life, not a new requirement to get used to.

“This is no longer disruptive,” Moody said. “It’s the way they do business.”

Salisbury Post intern Anna Grace Thrailkill contributed to this story.