In the fall, Onyeukwu heads to the college of his dreams–Penn State. It also happens to be my alma mater, and a place that offers a culture of academic excellence where I feel confident he will thrive as he pursues a degree in engineering.
Onyeukwu on the bus.
After some trouble at school in D.C., Onyeukwu’s parents sent him to his native country, Nigeria, to experience the hardships of life in the developing world and to be thankful for the opportunities given to him here in the U.S.
When he returned, he began his junior year at Calvin Coolidge and also began weekly sessions on the Mobile Learning Lab. Getting into college was a priority, and in addition to studying for the SATs, drafting a compelling personal statement that would resonate with admissions officers was essential.
Working one-on-one with the tutors and having a tablet at his fingertips, he was able to shape his story and efficiently edit several drafts until he came up with his final version–a genuine account of his life altering experience in Nigeria and his revelation that he had an “opportunity in life that could be taken away at any time.”
Because of this mobile learning initiative, made possible through our partnership with Verizon Wireless, students also receive individualized help with writing scholarship applications, and they use the tablets to navigate the challenging college application process. Rather than having a stack of paper documents which can be easily misplaced, drafts and the information used to create them are stored digitally, accessed remotely and quickly, and easily emailed for review by the tutors for immediate feedback, eliminating the burden of a traditional and, at times, outdated paper method.
Teacher Regina McClure, who works closely with the students who partake in the program, says that “as an educator, it is so important to see results, and we’ve seen them with the Mobile Learning Lab.”
In 2012, all of the students that participated in the program were accepted to college, and we’re on track to reach that goal again in 2013.
McClure said, “Going into it, I knew it was going to be a successful program, but I was not expecting 100 percent acceptance rates. I was very impressed and excited by that.”
Mobile technology has had a tremendous impact on increasing student engagement, enthusiasm, and increasing overall college acceptance rates here at Calvin Coolidge. If asked, Ms. Frizzle might put it this way, in her well-known shout-out during each episode, “Come on bus, do your stuff!”
Melanie Agnew is the acting vice principal and educational coach at Calvin Coolidge High School, Washington D.C.