Brittany D. McClure
The Valdosta Daily Times
On Friday, Jan. 11, Valdosta City Schools surprised 24 classrooms, in seven different schools — Newbern Middle, J.L. Lomax Elementary, Southeast Elementary, S.L. Mason Elementary, Valdosta Middle, Valdosta High, and Sallas Mahone Elemetary Schools — with the news that they will soon receive over 500 iPads as a part of a Race to the Top (RT3) grant called Operation unBOUND.
The grant offers teachers the opportunity to participate in and create innovative, student-based educational projects that enhance learning using technology with the objective of improving student achievement.
"We had 34 applicants system-wide and we were able to reward 24 teachers," said Danielle White of the Teaching and Learning department for Valdosta City Schools.
The 24 recipients will receive a classroom set of iPads, accessories and resources, as well as professional learning targeting student-based activities.
"The teachers that applied for Operation unBOUND were really innovative . . . and looking for different ways to engage students," said White.
The teachers will receive their iPads on Thursday, Jan. 24 during a professional learning day where they will receive in-depth instruction on how to use the device.
"We will also look at the goals they wrote in their applications," said White.
Each teacher had to fill out an application where they had to indicate their measurable goals for their classrooms related to writing across the curriculum using technology, describe a time in their career where they stepped out of their comfort zone to learn something new, and express why they believe technology is necessary in 21st century learning.
"The focus is about increasing student achievement through the technology," said head of Teaching and Learning for Valdosta City Schools Scarlet Brown.
The funding for the iPads comes from money earned through RT3, a fund that is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The $4 billion grant supports new approaches to improve schools and is dispersed throughout competitive grants rewarded to states that are creating conditions for education, innovation and reform.