Assistant Superintendent Brent Roark told members of the Harlan County Board of Education in a special called meeting Thursday that new technology is being placed in every school in the district for the upcoming school year.
The Appalachian Renaissance Initiative (ARI), which is part of the 2013 U.S. Department of Education’s Race to the Top Grant, will provide a classroom “full of personal devices” at every school in the county, said Roark.
According to Roark, this project will serve as an important, significant and effective model to dramatically improve educational outcomes for students across Kentucky.
Components of the ARI grant are: Next Generation Leadership Academy, Next Generation teacher Leader Academy and Next Generation Classrooms.
“One of the components of this grant is a one-to-one ratio, which means they want a personal device in the hands of every child,” said Roark. “That’s one of the big pushes of the grant. Each school, hopefully, by next week will have a 70-inch mondopad in each classroom in our area — one for each school in Harlan County.”
Roark said a mondopad is basically a laptop computer, which is integrated with the teacher so the teacher can make use of it. He said it has “a lot” of video communication capabilities so that students can do distance learning — bringing classes from outside areas and allowing classes to communicate with each other in the district.
“We’re planning to broadcast some of our Spanish classes from the high school,” said Roark. “We’d let those teachers come in on their planning time and broadcast out to, maybe, our second- or third-grade classes — we’ve not settled on what grade yet. Broadcast, maybe, several times a week for 15 to 20 minutes of Spanish lessons for our elementary schools.”
Roark said 28 one-to-one devices will be purchased to place in these classrooms at each school.
“I’m glad we’re a part of this grant and glad we’re getting the benefit from it and our kids are as well,” Roark said.
Superintendent Mike Howard added each school has a teacher dealing with the program and those teachers traveled to Hazard for training.
“I’m really excited about having this technology and getting it in our schools,” said Howard. “This will be a big boost for our schools and students to have this.”
Howard added the district purchased reading textbooks for all students in all grades for the upcoming school year.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-573-4510 or on Twitter @Nola_hde