Greencastle-Antrim School District to put tablets in hands of each student

PAT FRIDGEN, Echo Pilot
G-ASD technology director Dwight Bard explained the infrastructure to support the program.

A bold step into the next generation’s world was introduced to the public Thursday evening, Feb. 11. Members of a Greencastle-Antrim School District task force shared plans to launch One-to-One next school year, targeting high school students.

Superintendent Greg Hoover spoke to parents at an information session.

“It’s not a done decision,” he said. “The school board has to vote on this.”

But among all the initiatives undertaken by the district under his tenure, this is the one he was most excited about. “This time we’re doing it right. We are taking a year to plan it.”

Administrators have been investigating the concept of blending individualized technology into education for years, and began to focus on providing each student with a tablet device for an equal learning platform.

“Kids use technology all the time. Why should they ‘power down’ at school?” Hoover asked.

Equal Tech Opportunties (ETO) became the term for the project.

Chief educational officer Bob Crider said, “The ultimate goal is for us to equalize the playing field.”

He added that after receiving $1 million per year for the past four years with the KtO Literacy Grant, the district was well-suited to take the next step. It was committed to continuing the literacy goals as well.

G-ASD is joining the trend of other districts in the three-county Lincoln Intermediate Unit. For the 2015-2016 school year, the high school piloted the program in two classrooms, and student input was helpful in figuring out which functions would be most valuable.

Teachers learned applications during professional development days. Every department is preparing for the devices, to be used at the level the instructors deem best for their students.

The mission statement of ETO includes the statement that G-ASD wants to prepare its students for the digital world, either in the workforce or further education.

Parents shared their first impressions on ETO.

“We will wait and see,” said John McCune. “The details are not worked out. We are willing to understand more as time goes on.”

Gina Rowland and her family moved to Greencastle for the educational system.

“This is very exciting,” she said. “This reaffirms our decision to do so.”

Members of the task force, which continues to meet, are: administrators Hoover, Crider, high school principal Ed Rife, high school assistant principals Christine Reiber and Gerald Crable, business manager Jolinda Wilson, technology director Dwight Bard; teachers Tara Clopper, Meagan Brockway and Alex Miller; students Hannah Cline, Hannah Salazar and Saleena Wilt; and parents Cathy Crider, Laura Martin and Nelson Witmer.

More information is available on the school website at gcasd.org