Hagan visits high-tech Montlieu
Students at Montlieu Elementary Academy of Technology and their teachers were eager Friday to tell U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan how much fun it is to learn with their iPads.
Hagan visited the school Friday to see how the district will use a $30 million federal grant to provide tablets to all middle school students. Montlieu Academy was a pilot for the transformation.
The school has 432 iPads, many of which sponsors paid for. In many classrooms, teachers use a “white board” to display websites to guide lessons. In kindergarten, there are few crayons, because students can draw on the tablets and then post their creations on networks for all to see.
For older children, the iPad is perfect for learning fractions.
“I was proud to support the application for this grant that will serve 17,000 students and allow GCS to build on its strong record of innovation so that we can bring learning into the 21st century to help our students meet the challenges of today’s global economy,” said Hagan, a member of the Senate committee that oversees education.
The grant competition offered nearly $400 million to boost individualized classroom instruction aimed at closing achievement gaps and preparing each student for college and career. More than 300 districts applied for a grant, and Guilford County Schools was one of 16 awardees. Because of the national focus on debt and the national deficit, there may be other priorities, Hagan said.
“Education is important for our future,” Hagan said. “But we have to get our deficit under control. I am concerned about that, but we also have to make investments in our future. We must invest in infrastructure, that includes high-speed broadband. We want these young people to have that access when they go home, but in many places in rural areas, people don’t have that access. We also need funds for research and development.”
Nearly 17,000 students in the district’s 24 middle schools will receive tablet computers over the next two years, to work at their own pace, using personal learning “maps” that show the students their progress in mastering new concepts.
“I was proud to show Sen. Hagan first-hand how the funding through the federal Race to the Top-District program will impact students in Guilford County Schools today and look forward to keeping her updated on our progress,” said Superintendent Mo Green.
The Montlieu transformation has led to awards and honors. The school joined the ranks of the top 10 percent of Title I schools in the state.
“We have a vision that Montlieu would be a prototype school for technology,” said Principal Ged O’Donnell. “We would not have been able to do this without the support of our community and our donors. In many schools and districts, when you learn new technology, scores dip. That was not the case here. We had double-digit growth in every area from reading to science. We want to make sure we continue with it.”
Gains: Since the school provided tablet computers for all students, Montlieu Academy has achieved a 9 percent gain in literacy, an 11 percent boost in math and a 25 percent gain in science.
Donors: Businesses for Excellence in Education, High Point University, Millis Foundation and the Bryan Foundation