It’s a technology program transforming classrooms in Greene County and it could soon be heading to a school near you.
The school system is paving the way for students across our state when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom.
More than a decade ago, district leaders made technology a priority in their budget. Despite cuts elsewhere, they have consistently spent about $900,000 each year to lease 3,000 laptops from Apple.
Now, students enrolled in the STEM program, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math, also have their hands on iPads thanks to a partnership with North Carolina Virtual Public School.
Greene County is one of only three school systems in the state participating in NCVPS’ pilot Race to the Top STEM project. A virtual teacher leads the classes online, while a classroom teacher facilitates activities and answers questions.
"Data collected for the program is showing us that students are leaving our STEM courses with a very high level of skill sets,” says José Garcia, the STEM coordinator for Greene Central High School. “Also, the work ethic and the quality of product they're producing is right up there with the Honors students."
STEM students are also convinced technology in the classroom is making a difference.
"I've learned to be more advanced and learn to do more on my own,” says freshman Ally Turnage. “So I don't think I could go back to the old paper and pencil. I'm not really used to that anymore."
Garcia says other school system leaders have already started asking questions about the pilot program – a sign it could expand across the state.
“It produces students that are more globally aware, they’re better prepared for college and they’re just better prepared to tackle the workforce,” he says.