Technology broadens students’ learning opportunities at South Johnston High School

SJHS students work in the school's Microsoft IT Academy Lab.

South Johnston High School in North Carolina’s Johnston County Schools recently started a one-to-one laptop program for freshmen, which has extended their learning beyond the traditional school day, and has overcome the challenge of an older building to deliver wireless internet access throughout the school.

Students are taking more Advanced Placement classes online, taking advantage of opportunities that didn’t exist before—and school leaders have saved money by moving to online assessments.

For these reasons and others, we’ve chosen South Johnston High School as our “eSchool of the Month” for March. Here, school technology facilitator Bennett Jones describes some of the school’s ed-tech accomplishments and its keys to success.

(Editor’s note: To nominate your school or district for our “eSchool of the Month” feature, and to read about past winners, click here.)

How do you use technology to advance student learning?

This year, we implemented our Freshman Academy, a one-to-one laptop initiative where we distributed laptops to our more than 300 freshmen. We also have gone completely wireless, allowing our freshmen to use the laptops throughout the campus and to be able to use them at home, where many of our students do not have computers. Furthermore, we have purchased and installed 13 SMART Boards, bringing our total in the school to 19. Finally, we have been able to purchase 25 iPads to create a lab where students and teachers can use apps and other programs to enhance learning, especially for our exceptional children’s department.

Have you noticed an increase in student performance and/or motivation as a result?

Absolutely. Our school is relatively old (built in 1969), and up until just a couple of years ago, there was barely a working computer in each classroom. Now, as a result of our dedication to technology and electronic instruction, our student morale and performance have increased. In fact, we were the only high school in our district to be named a North Carolina School of Distinction by achieving high growth, and test scores in all but one area increased last year. Our dropout rate is down, and we had more than a 100-percent growth in the number of students taking online courses.

How do you use technology to streamline school administration and aid in decision-making?

We use GoogleDocs for record keeping in teacher learning communities and during our intervention period that we have every day. All of our administrators are equipped with iPads to assist in quick fact-checking and to use the online observation system. Our teachers are receiving laptops for use during faculty meetings, which will enable them to enter input in GoogleDocs in real time to share ideas and make comments. Finally, we have been able to create videos using Discovery Education streaming and Windows Movie Maker to share with our middle schools and other departments in the district.

Have you realized an increase in efficiency, a savings in administrative costs, or some other tangible benefits as a result of this technology use?

eSchool News Staff

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