Julie Smith, vice president of external affairs for Verizon’s southern division, Tuesday gave school officials a giant replica of a check inside the middle school library while teachers, students, city council members, school board members and state Sen. Del Marsh, R-Anniston, looked on.
“We’re not doing this in Birmingham. We’re not doing this in Huntsville or in downtown Atlanta. We’re doing this in Piedmont,” Smith said. “For us to be able to support you in all that you are doing is invaluable to us.”
The grant will pay for two years of training for the middle school teachers.
The company selected to do the training, International Society for Technology in Education, is in Piedmont for three days this week to start the training, which will be extended through online training session. The company had only been in town a short time when the grant award was formally announced Tuesday, but middle school teachers said they were already learning about new programs and free software that will help them in the classroom.
“Piedmont rose to the top,” Smith said. “For us this is a great story in that you wouldn’t expect this in a rural system.”
Piedmont City Schools have gained national attention since 2010, when the district started issuing a take-home laptop computer to each student in grades four through 12.
This year, the school system is expanding its technology program to include children in kindergarten through third grade by giving those students iPods, iPads and laptop computers.
Superintendent Matt Akin has said the ultimate goal of the program is to personalize instruction to fit the needs of each student. That aspect of the program is taking root in the system’s middle school, where teachers are using grant funding to start another new program this year that allows students to work at their own pace.
‘It’s directly aligned with our goals,” Akin said. “It’s really all about training and technology.”
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.