School board members approved the purchase of 30 Apple iPads and 76 Macbook Pros during a December meeting.
The computers are possible through a $95,606 grant to the school from a three-year school improvement program that has substantially increased the number of computers for students and developed new curriculum strategies for teachers.
It is the final installment of the three-year school improvement grant that has provided significant technology upgrades as well as personnel and professional development that has enhanced the teachers’ skills.
The additional Apple products will fill the 25 laptop carts and five iPad carts acquired during the past two years.
Each cart can hold 20 laptops and is shared between two teachers. Each teacher has been issued an iPad, which is interactive with the smartboards in each classroom.
“Technology is the net that you cast in the water that gets those kids in the boat, that takes them where you want to go,” principal Glen Brown said. “This is what gives them the interest that they can sink their teeth into. It’s through the technology that the curriculum becomes so much more interesting, and they find more relevance in it.”
Many of the students at Ridgeland High School come from economically challenged families that do not have the means for such technology. Through the expanse of laptop usage within classrooms, the students have developed technology skills that are critical in the modern workforce.
The investment into technology has also benefited all of the other schools within the Walker County school system, each having systemic updates of computers, including the newer iPads.
Students can grab the laptops in class as easily as if they were getting paper and pencil from a backpack.
“We have several (computer) labs that we use, especially the English language arts teachers, for research and senior projects. It’s an essential component in their research and composition,” said Kristen Jagger, social studies coach and technology intervention specialist. “Teachers are installing apps that help with literacy or games that are more interactive in learning.”
“It’s a better way to engage our students,” said Jason Alspaugh, social studies teacher, “The textbooks, especially in government and civics, are really outdated when they’re printed.”
He has used the laptops for the past three years in lessons on current topics, like nominating Supreme Court justice.
Textbooks in his classroom are outdated from a few years ago, prior to the approval of justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.