School tech-SHMS.JPG

Snow Hill Middle School students follow along with a lesson on a flat panel television on school-issued iPads. The district has implemented a new technology program through a partnership at Apple that has provided iPads for students and high-tech processes in classrooms.

It began as a pipe dream.

Several years ago, Worcester County Public Schools officials wanted to upgrade the district’s technology platform. And with support from Superintendent Lou Taylor, and forward-thinking county lawmakers who secured the funding, it became a reality.

“This was our dream,” said Annette Wallace, the district’s chief operating and academic officer for grades nine through 12, of the school system’s recent partnership with Apple that created a high-tech instructional technology program.

Nick Genovesi and Brian Cook, the district’s instructional technology and innovation coaches, publicly presented details of the program during a Nov. 16 Board of Education meeting.

Officially implemented in fall 2020 with iPads for students, the partnership not only helped with virtual learning and engagement during the unplanned closure of schools because of the pandemic, but it also catapulted the district into a top spot for technology offerings.

“Not only is Worcester County doing things with devices and technology that other counties aren’t doing, we’re doing things that people on this side of the country aren’t doing,” Genovesi said during last week’s presentation.

Through the program, in winter 2020, students at Showell Elementary were given MacBooks. Over the summer, flat panels replaced smart boards in all district classrooms, and staff members underwent Apple device training. In the fall, all teachers received MacBooks, and this winter administrative staff will receive iMacs.

According to Genovesi and Cook’s presentation, 518 staff members have been certified as Apple teachers and 648 MacBooks have been issued across the district.

And from first graders to high schoolers, students have benefited from this new, innovative technology. They are now able to interact with teachers as they go over lessons. And teachers can be much more creative with easier access to more information and processes, among other gains.

Taylor, who said he tasked officials several years ago to come up with a replacement for the district’s “antiquated” technology, is more than satisfied with the result.

“It has worked so well, I can’t even begin to tell you,” he said. “It is one of those things I am so proud of. Our schools are much better places because of the work that you’re doing, the learning environment is so much better. We are in a good place with our Apple computer program.”

This story appears in the print edition of the OC Today on Nov. 26.

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