Blue Valley bond vote pumps money for technology into schools - Montgomery Alabama news.

Blue Valley bond vote pumps money for technology into schools


A 2012 bond issue in the Blue Valley School District provided millions of dollars for technology, and students and teachers are now reaping the benefits.

At Stillwell Elementary, they're using some of the extra dollars for brand new iPads used in what are called "innovation spaces." 

Second-grade teacher Jami Tarwater says pencils aren't extinct, but Tarwater says her students are getting more from the iPads and their many applications than she thought they would. She is excited by what she is seeing.

"They're more interested in learning," Tarwater points out. "They jump in and are ready to learn."

Tarwater says the kids figure things out quicker and don't seem to need as much explanation from her.

"Even the kids that don't have one at home, they know what they're doing," the teacher said. "They're able to do things independently. That surprised even me."

Innovation spaces started in a just few elementary classrooms in the Blue Valley district last year. This year, they're in 91 elementary classrooms, seven libraries and 15 science high school classrooms.

Blue Valley officials say they plan to grow the program to every classroom in the district over the next few years.

The district's director of educational technology, Kristy Sailors, says they've added the innovation spaces slowly for a reason.

"We selected a pilot so we could learn what we could do better, what we did great, what types of support and resources are available," Sailors points out. "We want to be mindful of what we do, what purchases we make and how much those purchases cost. We want the biggest bang for our buck."

The district plans to spend $84 million in bond money for technology replacement and improvement. Sailors says the progress they've seen in each classroom has been promising.

For example, students do a video project rather than stand up at the front of the classroom and give an oral book report. It's more interactive but covers the same elements.

Pam Devuyst, Stillwell Elementary's principal, says having access to the latest technology prepares her students, even the younger ones, for the rest of their education and their careers.

"They loved being able to get their feet wet and hands on this equipment," says Devuyst. "You give an iPad, or any technology really, to a student, and they can't get enough of it."

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