Preparing Students to Succeed Anywhere
Arp ISD administrators have a unique challenge: Preparing students to leave their hometown to find work. Jobs are few in the small, rural East Texas community, which lies roughly between Tyler and Henderson. Most of the students graduating from Arp ISD will have to find work elsewhere.
Inspiring Students to “Think Outside of the Box”
In a small community with no museum, library, television or radio station, it falls to the educators in Arp ISD to stimulate young minds and prepare them for life outside the area. Notable uses of technology include interactive dance mats and e-blocks that keep elementary school students moving and engaged. Additionally, high school students gain confidence by participating in a unique mentor program that gives one-on-one technical training to teachers.
Student Enthusiasm and Grades Rise
The engaging and inspiring atmosphere created by digital learning has had an impact on academic performance, including TAKS scores. For example, the percentage of commendable performance students, as reported on their TAKs scores, has risen from 20% to 50%.
Offering an explanation of the gains, Arp Junior High Principal Dwight Thomas said that digital learning draws students into their subjects, allowing them to play a more active role in their education. “They like coming to school and technology is one of those aspects that gives kids a reason to come to school. It gives them more responsibility. The kids now have to do more work but it’s work they want to do. So it’s just a fun environment for them to learn in.”
Arp ISD’s transition to digital learning has been supported by a number of grants: Technology Integration in Education beginning in 1999 (TIE), Telecommunications Infrastructure Fund beginning in 1997(TIF), TEA TARGET Grant and a Connections Grant beginning in 2000.
“To apply for grants, you need to know what the status quo of your district is and what areas of needs you can identify using current and relevant data,” said Dr. Rousseau. “Grant writing is a process that can be learned.” To help novice grant writers, she has written a quick-start guide for the process, posted at http://www.arp.sprnet.org/inserv/grant.htm.