School district puts technology into students’ hands
From pre-K students using touch screens to learn their ABCs to high schoolers studying computer science, the Ingram Independent School District is preparing children to thrive in a digital world.
A NEW WAY OF LEARNING
By the time children are old enough for school, they’re already familiar with devices like tablets and smartphones, so making technology part of the classroom experience is a natural progression. “Kids live in a technology-driven world,” says Ingram ISD Assistant Superintendent Mindy Curran, adding that students’ preexisting interest in technology makes for a smooth transition. “It’s intuitive for the kids. They are plugged in all the time.”
In elementary classrooms, web-based programs are building reading and math skills, while middle schoolers are using a program called Naviance to explore what careers align with their interests and strengths. The technological offerings ramp up for older students. Ingram Tom Moore High School is one of a growing number of schools across the country with a cybersecurity program, and Curran says the 3-year-old program is popular.
“There are a few high schools out there doing this now, because the workforce push is there,” she says. “We have not had to limit it, but I will tell you, that teacher’s schedule is running really tight. Right now, it’s been a really good, solid-running program. We’ve added students every year.” Eighth graders are now able to take the introductory cybersecurity class. “The younger the student, the more interest there is,” Curran says. “It keeps trickling down, and they get more excited, which draws in more kids.”
A solid broadband connection, provided to the district by HCTC, is essential to Ingram ISD’s daily operations. It affects everything from communication between parents and teachers to high school students taking classes for college credit. “It’s gotten to the point where it’s not just a piece of what we do. It’s so ingrained into just your day-to-day functioning,” Curran says, “so you need a strong, reliable internet provider.”
The increasing focus on technology and the addition of courses of study like cybersecurity seek to position students for success. “The job demand is just huge, so when we were looking at a potential redesign of some of our pathways a few years ago, we were looking at the upand- coming job demands that are there,” Curran says.
“It’s great if you have a four-year degree or an advanced degree, but you don’t have to have that to have a job waiting for you,” she says. “There are postsecondary certifications you can get that will get you a job. Those are high-wage, high-demand jobs waiting for students, so that’s what drove it.”