This morning, Principal Valerie Brown of Bess T. Shepherd Elementary asked her students if they could have anything to help them learn better, what would it be?
Not just money or textbooks, she told them, but technology. Specifically, the 169 Chromebooks she revealed the school has bought for their students and staff, through a $50,000 grant from the Leonore Annenberg School Fund for children.
Brown said the Chromebooks will stay at the school, but they will help the students keep up with their peers technologically, as well as help them with other leadership skills.
"They'll use the technology that we get to blog with one another or people from around the world to solve problems, and we want it to be able so we can have a kind of think wall, but they'll be doing it electronically," Brown said.
Christa Payne, vice president of external affairs for the Public Education Foundation (PEF) in Chattanooga, said the school was chosen for the grant after applying and meeting all of the criteria, including at least an 85-percent poverty rate.
"We invite every school who hasn't won in the past four years to apply," she said. "Then we review in conjunction with the district their applications, and then we choose."
She said all of the teachers will receive adequate training with the Chromebooks, and that the initiative is similar to other "1 to 1" programs already implemented in the district, where each student and staff member is given a computer.
"We want to make sure these teachers have support so that they're effective," she said.
They already have professional development planned for the teachers.
The schools got to choose what to spend the money on, and Payne said both schools decided to go with the Chromebooks, based on the success in other low-income schools.
"It's totally up to the schools, but I think what's important is for both schools, its not about the technology it's about the instruction that comes behind it," she said.
PEF will be making a second announcement at East Lake Elementary School today at 11:30 a.m.