Ebenezer Middle School’s efforts to enhance learning by using innovative technologies in its classrooms has put the Effingham County school in the spotlight — specifically First District RESA’s “Spotlight on Technology.”
On Sept. 4, Principal Beth Helmly, technology instructor Joe Strickland, art teacher Carlee Fuller, family and consumer sciences instructor Shawn Baker and band director Tom Brinson were presented with the Spotlight on Georgia Technology Innovation Certificate and a gift basket full of useful classroom supplies. In addition, the school will be showcased on the First District Educational Technology Training Center Web site (www.fdresa.org/ettc/spotlight.htm).
EMS is the first school among First District RESA schools to receive the Spotlight Award. They were selected after Strickland described to RESA how the connections program at his school was using “recycled” computers to enhance their curriculum. Because the state no longer funds the purchase of hardware or software for school systems, Strickland chose to seek alternative, cost-effective means to introduce technology into the classrooms mentioned above.
Upon learning that RESA was auctioning off used computers, Strickland and the EMS connections teachers bid on 30 of the Gateway computers, won the bid and purchased them at minimal costs with fundraiser money. Strickland then reconfigured the computers with their original software and added open source software. Each of the five connections classrooms then received five or six of the computers.
Fuller and the art room received computers from South Effingham High School’s graphic arts lab. The older CPUs were updated to run Apple’s latest software. Fuller and her yearbook students use the computers to create yearbook layouts and her art students use the computers for digital art projects.
Baker’s family and consumer sciences students use their computers for creating power point projects on various subjects related to their curriculum. The computers in Brinson’s band room run music theory software, which the students refer to for remediation and reiteration.
“Today’s society is technology-driven and we need to prepare our students for that,” stated Superintendent Randy Shearouse. “When we lost state funding for the purchase of computers and software, our local budget had to absorb that cost.”
Upon receiving the Spotlight Award, Shearouse congratulated Strickland and his fellow teachers for their efforts to improve student achievement with minimal or no cost to the county’s taxpayers.