NA lands major tech grant

    North Adams Community Schools is one of 23 school corporations statewide to be named as a recipient of state education department technology grant funding.
    The Indiana Department of Education announced this week that the selected school corporations will receive up to $200,000 each to implement classroom technology projects. The grants, totaling $3 million, were awarded through Indiana’s classroom innovation grant program, which is funded primarily through the David C. Ford educational technology fund.
    The fund was created in memory of Indiana Senator David C. Ford of Hartford City, who worked to encourage classroom technology and innovation during his service to the Indiana General Assembly from 1994 to 2008.
    Schools that received grants in 2011, which included North Adams, were eligible to extend their grants with a maximum award of $100,000. Winners were chosen by a panel of IDOE staff members.
    Superintendent Dr. Wylie Sirk said North Adams year's stipend this year will be $100,000. The school district was awarded $200,000 in technology grant funding in 2011. Sirk said the initial round of grant funding was used to initiate Project Based Learning training for teachers and to "help us move toward a digital curriculum" that will see students rely less on textbooks and more on "various other technology means to help them prepare for work in the real world."
    The latest grant, Sirk said, will continue programs already in place, and will help move the school district toward its goal of providing iPads to all high school students within the next two years.    
    "We're excited, of course," Sirk said Friday about the grant award. He said a team of educators from North Adams met last week with the grant selection committee, first giving a 10-minute presentation and then undergoing a rigorous 10-minute question-and-answer session.
    "That was a first for us," Sirk said laughingly. "But I was pleased that they (the panel) recognized the good work we're doing."
    East Noble School Corporation was the only other district in northeast Indiana to be awarded a technology grant during the latest round.
    “More than ever, technology plays a central role in classroom learning and prepares students for a competitive, high-tech workforce,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Dr. Tony Bennett said in a press release. “I am proud to recognize these schools committed to driving student success using technology.”
    The schools and corporations that applied were evaluated based on their vision for a sustainable technology-infused learning environment and the level of innovation in their proposals. The schools were also reviewed for their efforts to advance student learning in key areas identified by the IDOE — including improvement in Math and English/Language Arts ISTEP+ performance, Advanced Placement exam scores, graduation rates, and use of student growth data.