Two Spartanburg schools chosen for Google pilot program

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Two middle schools in Spartanburg County’s District 1 will participate in a pilot program pioneered by tech giant Google.

Mabry and Landrum middle schools are part of a group of 50 schools across the country chosen for the Dynamic Learning Project, which is aimed at improving the integration of technology in the classroom.

The one-year program is the result of a partnership between Google, the nonprofit Digital Promise, and EdTechTeam, a global network of technology educators.

“We’re really excited about this,” said Jimmy Pryor, chief technology officer for District 1 schools. “It will be a valuable asset to our teachers and our students. Not only does this place us on the national stage, but it will also create opportunities for collaboration with other innovative schools across the country.”

For the past several years, District 1 has been making strides to increase opportunities for students through technology.

In 2014, district officials traveled to the corporate headquarters of both Google and Apple as part of its “1-to-1” device rollout, meaning one device for each student.

Leaders chose the Google Chromebook for the district’s students and teachers.

“It’s not about the device; it’s about the tools that surround it,” Pryor said. “We saw the Chromebook as the best fit for our needs.”

In 2015, the nonprofit Connect South Carolina began an initiative focused on installing fiber optic cable to increase Internet bandwidth in rural and underserved urban areas of the state.

Communities across Spartanburg County, particularly areas served by District 1 schools, received upgrades in broadband infrastructure as part of the initiative.

“This is part of the same journey,” Pryor said.

As part of Thursday’s announcement, District 1 introduced two former teachers who will serve as “coaching fellows” to help guide the schools through the program.

The district said Kelli Coons and Christin Edge will serve as the fellows for Landrum and Mabry middle schools, respectively.

Coons
Edge

Coons and Edge will “work with teachers to apply best practices in the powerful use of technology for teaching and learning,” the district said.

They will also be responsible for promoting a culture of openness, personalized professional development, and continuous improvement between faculty and administration; and engaging with other fellows and principals to share knowledge and build a community of support.

“We recognize the profound impact technology has on preparing today’s students for college and career readiness,” said Ron Garner, superintendent of District 1, in a statement. “Having two District 1 schools selected to participate in The Dynamic Learning Project is an honor and a testament to the innovative instructional practices that occur within our district. The technology coaching fellows afforded to us through this program will be an incredible asset to our students and teachers and will amplify our 1:1 technology initiative and enhance professional development opportunities.”

Coons and Edge took part in a weeklong training program for the Dynamic Learning Project this summer that was hosted by Digital Promise at Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, Calif.

“It’s imperative that teachers are supported as they create new and powerful learning environments so students are prepared for the jobs of the future,” said Karen Cator, president and CEO of Digital Promise, in a statement. “Early research studies point to the positive impact of educator coaching on teacher practices and student achievement. We’re thrilled to work with Google and EdTechTeam to bring the Dynamic Learning Project to Spartanburg School District 1.”

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