Each year, we share our 10 most-read stories. Not surprisingly, many of this year’s Top 10 focused on innovative ways to engage students, digital resources, and online and hybrid learning strategies related to post-pandemic teaching. This year’s 7th most-read story focuses on a Hero Awards winner dedicated to STEM education.
One of three eSN K-12 Hero Awards winners and nominated by Bluum, Kim Leblanc was selected for the innovative STEM learning initiatives she champions in her district and for her students.
Conventional wisdom would say that economically disadvantaged schools across the country would need to think twice before making a major investment in technology. However, not all districts in that predicament have a technology director like Kim Leblanc.
Calcasieu Parish School Board is the fifth-largest school district in Louisiana, resting in the southwest part of the state. In total, the district serves 29,500 students across 60 elementary, middle, and high schools. It is a 100 percent CEP district, which means that every student is eligible for free lunch based on the economic poverty data submitted to the federal government.
However, Calcasieu Parish School Board’s Chief Technology Officer, Kim Leblanc, has developed a system for providing the type of technology in classrooms that one would only expect in affluent schools.
Behind Kim’s leadership, Calcasieu Parish conducted a thorough needs assessment before purchasing more than $4.1 million in technology and technology professional development with federal funds under Title I and Title IV to implement the technology within the existing curriculum.
The investment included 400 3D printers and the professional development necessary to advance STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) education, most of which came at no cost to the district. It also is developing a STEM bus with fun technological gadgets to enhance student learning
“Technology is continuously evolving, so we need to give all of our students equal opportunities to succeed,” Kim said. “We wanted to provide them the technologies that enhanced their critical thinking, collaboration and creativity so that they can compete both academically and in the modern workforce.”
Calcasieu Parish’s Training Tech Center, led by Kim, was already instrumental in introducing new technology to its classrooms, including robotics and a computing device for each student and teacher. Armed with a philosophy to “make it happen in the classroom,” Calcasieu Parish and Kim are committed to preparing its students for STEAM careers, illustrated by its investments in student design competitions, summer tech camps and the STEM bus. The students are already utilizing the 3D printers in classrooms to solve real-world challenges and develop 3D designing skills within projects.
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