By EMMALEE C. TORISK
This fall, Mary Janek will begin her 30th year of teaching science at Campbell Memorial High School.
She’s as invigorated by the task as she ever was, thanks in no small part to the possibilities she’d never even dreamed of that are offered by classroom technology.
If her students aren’t familiar with the setup of a greenhouse, for example, she can pull up an image of one in seconds.
“It’s instantaneous access to cutting-edge information,” Janek said.
Students across the Campbell City School District soon will have increased access to that information. Last month, the Campbell Board of Education approved the purchase of 190 new computers, 37 interactive whiteboards and accessories and 38 projectors and whiteboards, all of which will be installed in the elementary/middle school and high school by the start of the 2014-15 school year.
The purchases total almost $225,000. They will be paid for with permanent-improvement funds, which came from the sale of mineral rights, and not with general-fund dollars, said Matthew Bowen, schools superintendent.
Bowen said a committee composed of several district teachers, administrators and technology directors decided on the purchases, which were thought to “be the best use of these funds to ultimately enhance and improve instruction for students.”
He explained that the new computers will replace dated ones that are connected to current interactive whiteboards.
“We want them [computers] working — not freezing up — not locking up in the middle of instruction. That’s really not acceptable,” Bowen said. “We always assess our wants and needs [in the district]. What people want is not always necessary. Looking at our needs, technology is an area that we have to make a priority.”
The older computers, which often negatively impacted and disrupted planned instruction, will be moved to classroom workstations, replacing still-older models, for use by individual students. The district won’t just discard them, as they’re still “adequate for instruction” of a single user, Bowen said.
Like Janek, Bowen touted the benefits of current technologies in the classroom. For example, they give students access “to instruction that goes beyond the traditional textbook,” which sometimes is out of date before it even reaches the shelves or simply is incorrect.
Innovations such as interactive whiteboards also allow “students to actually participate and engage in the experience.”
Bowen said, too, that his overall vision involves students not being limited in their learning.
“We eliminate boundaries when we give kids access to technology,” he added. “They can research; they can explore; they can investigate.”
Both Bowen and Janek mentioned the need to equip students with the technological knowledge needed to succeed in today’s world. Many jobs that weren’t technology-based several decades ago now require that knowledge, for example.
Bowen noted that the district will continue to move forward in its quest to “ensure we have what is necessary for our students” in terms of technology — and also will ensure that those decisions pertaining to future purchases are fiscally sound.
As for Janek, she’s just thrilled to work in a district that has long supported technological innovation and integration in the classroom.
“We have been technology leaders,” she said. “I’m proud of that.”