Pike Road Schools recognized for digital learning
Pike Road Schools has been recognized as a top 10 system in the U.S. for investing in digital learning. The school was chosen sixth among those with 3,000 or fewer students.
The new system’s use of technology to help students achieve in science, technology, engineering and math earned the sixth-place national rank, according to the annual Digital School Districts Survey.
“We are thrilled to be in the company of so many schools who are doing incredible things and changing the lives of children,” said Kadie Crowell Agnew, communications director for PRS. “While being recognized on a national level certainly isn’t everything, it is a major accomplishment for a system that is still in its infancy. We are honored to achieve this award and continue building our credibility.”
Now in its 13th year, the Digital School Districts Survey Awards recognize exemplary use of technology by school boards and districts. The awards are presented by the Center for Digital Education at the National School Boards Association’s annual conference each spring.
Agnew said using modern technology is part of each day at PRS.
“We are one to one with iPads for our C3 (third grade) learners and we are one to one with Macbook Airs with our C4 to C9 learners,” Agnew said. “These devices go home with learners every day, and come back with them to school every day, creating a 24/7 learning experience for our learners.”
PRS tied with Cedar Bluffs Public Schools in Nebraska for sixth place, just behind Allendale Public Schools in Michigan. Canon Solutions America sponsored the 2016-17 survey.
PRS bested schools in Georgia, Missouri, Wisconsin and Arizona to finish sixth among the top 10.
The use of iPads begins as soon as students enter the Pike Road system, Agnew said. Applications are helpful in teaching students just starting out in elementary school.
“Our K to second communities all have 10 iPads in their classrooms to use in small groups and pairs,” she said. “We think it is important to empower our young learners to have access to the endless amount of apps that support learners in ways that simply cannot even be imagined with paper, while still creating an environment where our little learners are unplugged and learning critical skills in their classrooms beyond technology usage.”
PRS has more technology plans for the fall, including letting students serve their peers.
“We are starting a student help desk in the fall at the high school,” Agnew said. “A technology help desk will be run by and for students, where learners will be learning how to not only fix devices, but also basic skills of human interaction and management.”
She said the goal is to help every student become not only tech savvy, but also adaptable to changes in technology. Technology is not used for its own sake, but as a tool to accomplish something that can’t be done otherwise, she added.
“We are a Google Apps for Education school and utilize all of the tools with the GSuite, including Gmail, GoogleDocs, Google Slides, Google Sheets, Google Draw and endless third party apps developed specifically to support learners on a daily basis,” she said. “We are empowering our learners to be content creators, not just consumers. We believe that our learners are most engaged and passionate about their learning when they are able to create something of meaning, make a real impact and share it beyond the four walls of the classroom or school. “
Beth Sanders is the system’s coordinator of technology integration, and an Apple Distinguished Educator. There are only 880 of the educators internationally, and only three of the 880 are in Alabama, Agnew said.
“She is working with or IT department and technology integration coach to develop a digital symposium that will occur every nine weeks with parents and communities members to keep lines of communication open, and empower learners and lead learners to educate parents on the what, how, why, and the impact of the technology they are using with their learning,” Agnew said. “And to build positive relationships and trust of the technology usage in our schools as we continue to add devices and digital curriculum.”