Building on a long history of academic rigor and success is vital to leaders and staff at Charlotte Christian School.
So is ensuring all students passing through the south Charlotte private school’s halls are well equipped to enter college and the modern day workforce.
That’s why over the past two to three years, the school has worked to improve academic opportunities for students through the use of top-notch technology and student-driven learning in the classroom.
“It really started by looking at what other schools are doing. What are the successes? And then we looked at what colleges are doing. We wanted to know what environments our students will be going to, wanted to make sure our students are well equipped,” Theresa Kasay, director of academics at Charlotte Christian, said.
The school formed a technology team to do the research, which included administrators, facilitators and lower, middle and high school teachers. After doing much of the background work last year ensuring the Charlotte Christian campus has the needed infrastructure in place to support new technology, such as network and server upgrades and wireless capabilities, this summer, the school will purchase various new products for students and teachers to use starting next year.
They’ll purchase 430 MacBook Airs, one for each upper school student to use at school and home; 60 iPad Airs – 30 for middle school and 30 for lower school; 65 iPad minis – 30 for middle school, 25 for the school’s new STEM lab and 10 for junior kindergarten and kindergarten students; 25 iMacs for a new lower school technology lab; and AppleTVs, which will be installed in every classroom in the school.
“We basically tasked ourselves with ‘what devices do we want to layer into our instructional and academic infrastructure to support what we want to happen in the classroom in terms of learning, student engagement and digital engagement?’” Kasay said. “It’s not just about we’re adding machines. It’s about what we want our students to learn.”
Similar technology has already been implemented in parts of the school, like iPads in the lower school and in the hands of all Charlotte Christian teachers. Upper school teachers also recently were given MacBook Air laptops and have been attending training all semester to prepare for the 2014-15 school year. Kasay said the hope for the new technology is to help focus on 21st century learning and the four Cs – communication, collaboration, creativity and critical thinking, which are all part of the school’s instructional initiative – particularly with the addition of laptops for all upper school students. Those students now will have the freedom and flexibility to use their time wisely and work on their studies from practically anywhere on campus.
“We recognize the students will bring a level of expertise because they are digital natives,” Kasay said. “The one thing we’ve heard from students is that they are excited to have the flexibility in the day to work productively wherever they are in school, whether English class, study hall or on a break in the dining hall.”
Leaders and staff also are excited about the efficiency of workflow and communication that will come with the new technology, but at the same time, are keeping in mind that “students shouldn’t be in front of a machine all the time,” Kasay said.
“Our best resources here are our teachers, and we have those top quality teachers that really care about the students. This is just another way for them to teach and facilitate in the classroom. There will be times when screens are closed so they can have great discussion and collaboration.”