Written by Rich Forestano Wednesday, 17 April 2013 08:38
Apple presented a Dis-tinguished Program of the Year Award to the Mineola School District on Thursday, April 4. The technology giant has recognized 103 programs nationwide.
In January, District Superintendent Michael Nagler announced the district’s iPad program for the 2012-13 school year was selected for the honor. A school program must have “exemplary learning environments and centers of innovation, leadership and educational excellence,” to be considered for the award, according to Nagler.
“We’re incredibly proud to deliver this type of teaching and learning to kids,” said Nagler.
Nagler met with Apple reps on April 3, discussing plans to host an Apple event for Nassau BOCES’ Nassau Association of School Technologists on Thursday, May 16. School administrators from Gloversville, NY visited Mineola Middle School on Monday, April 8 to see the iPads in action.
“We want to share our best practices with other schools,” Nagler said, while thanking Marc Licht, the district’s technology coordinator.
Two Apple representatives were on hand to honor the district. Mineola hopes to establish an “iPad school” which, according to district officials, is the next level of its iPad revolution.
“I have to tell you, in my 20 years of experience in this industry, it is truly rare that you have an administration, teachers and students that are as good and as dedicated and as visionary as [Mineola] is,” an Apple rep, who asked not to be identified because of company policy, said. “I am humbled to have had an opportunity to work with them.”
Current Mineola Middle School Principal Matthew Gaven (who served as Jackson Avenue School principal when the program launched) was tasked with helping teachers institute the program. He broke the plan down into three phases.
“I remember when we first started the iPads, we had the opportunity to go see a class and I have a few email buddies now…they showed me how to work [the iPad],” Board Vice President Terence Hale said. “It’s really wonderful that our kids are excelling in it.”
Phase one saw teachers come back and essentially revamp the fifth-grade, working in two teams with partners, which almost mirrored the middle school structure. One class period was designated as having no pullout sheets and called the iPad exploration period, allowing teachers to implement new ways of integrating the device into the curriculum.
“It’s been wonderful to see [the program] come to life and everyday, how much the students are using it more and more,” Trustee Christine Napolitano said. “I think the parents are embracing, because rightfully so, they had some cautious attitudes about it, which I understand. I think as we proceeded, it turned out fabulous. This is a whole brand new world for everybody.”
Phase two saw the implementation of short research projects using Safari, Pages and Keynote, the Apple versions of Internet Explorer and Microsoft Word. Meanwhile, the district began exploring different applications. The third phase was to enable file sharing and communication using in-district email for each student, who can only receive emails from other Mineola school addresses.
“I think there’s a lot of collaboration on [Apple’s] side, getting information from us, and us getting information from [Apple],” Trustee Artie Barnett said. “I think this is going to take off and go national. We’re going to be one of those schools people look to.”
According to past district surveys, 50 and 66 percent of students respectively found writing and reading more interesting when using iPads.
“I’m grateful for the administration for what they do, Trustee Irene Parrino said. “It’s collaboration of students and teachers and it shows how teaching is successful.”