Following is the response to Sunday’s editorial in the Carteret County News Times titled “A Wise Decision?” It was composed by myself and my principal, Sue Kreuser. We also included valuable input from our staff. Special thanks to Amy Bruce, Margaret Ann Chalk, Michele Davis, Rhonda Scibal, and Bill Newman for helping us with content and editing!
Morehead City Middle School is grateful that our community is discussing the need for schools to increase the accessibility of technology for our students and staff. We would like to clarify our school’s plan to increase the use of technology across all content areas.
Morehead Middle School serves around 500 students. Our two computer labs are used for many purposes. One vocational classroom lab is used to teach the NC Standard Course of Study. In these classes, students learn basic keyboarding skills, as well as more complex skills, including applications such as word processing, database, spreadsheet, desktop publishing, and multimedia presentations. Our second lab is used on a rotating basis by our entire staff and their students. North Carolina requires teachers to include computer and other technology skills in their lessons. This lab is continually in use as our teachers create exciting and new ways to use technology in projects and everyday lessons.
MCMS has a need greater than our current computer labs can meet. Therefore, we have moved forward with a plan to bring technology into more classrooms. This plan is supported financially by our parents and students who sold chocolate bars and magazine subscriptions so that we could lease a portable lab. This lab will be in the hands of our students within the next several weeks.
Our portable lab has a three year warranty on parts and replacement, just like the desktop computers funded by the county. These laptops are stored in a secure cart which remains locked when not in use. When the lab is rolled to the classroom, students are assigned a specific laptop. Thus, if problems arise, the situation can be handled properly.
Essentially, the only differences between our portable lab of laptops and the desktop computers sitting in a lab (both have the same productivity and security software) are mobility and flexibility. Laptops give teachers and students the ability to use them in a variety of ways, such as outside labs in science or grouping students into stations in a classroom for cooperative learning projects. Laptops allow more accessibility without the capital outlay to build more labs. We can “make do” with the facilities we have by turning any room into a computer lab.
Rest assured that our students and staff will be trained in the proper care and use of this computer lab, just as they are with all computer inventory at our school. Improper use of technology equipment is dealt with as any other infraction would be. On the other hand, it is our policy to teach students the behaviors we want them to exhibit. We are confident that, with the proper training, they will treat this portable lab as well, if not better, than any other equipment they handle in the school. It is our hope that students will feel a sense of ownership and pride in this lab since they helped earn the money to make the lease possible.
At Morehead City Middle School, we are preparing our students to be 21st century learners who are inquisitive, collaborative, responsible, and independent in their learning. Technology is one of the tools they need now, not just in the future. We live in a technology rich environment. To ignore that fact and limit our schools to pen and paper activities would be a travesty and would put our students at a serious disadvantage when competing for jobs and college admissions. Additionally, we must prepare our students for the North Carolina Computer Skills test which is given in the eighth grade and which all students must pass to graduate from high school. Students must be exposed to technology as much as possible to learn the skills well enough to pass this test.
Our staff welcomes the public to visit our school to see this exciting tool for learning!