Technology plays a vital role in today’s society.
In business, job candidates are expected to be proficient in a wide range of computer applications and platforms to be considered for employment.
To better prepare students for college and to create a qualified workforce of the future, St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) is rolling out a cutting edge, exciting new program that will bolster students’ computer skills through digital age instruction and technology.
On April 14 and 15, students and faculty at Port St. Lucie High School and Fort Pierce Westwood High School were greeted with an unexpected announcement. Through a program called Access Now, SLPS is providing Dell 5450 laptops to each student and instructor. The devices will be used at school, at home, and in the community for school assignments and educational purposes. The laptop has solid state technology, is loaded with the full Microsoft Office Suite, and can run wireless anywhere.
Access to it will empower and educate students and expand teaching and learning opportunities beyond the walls of the classroom. The program will launch in August and will steadily grow so that each year more schools and more students have access to a device.
“The mission of St. Lucie Public School’s is to ensure all students graduate from safe and caring schools, equipped with the knowledge, skills and the desire to succeed. This new digital opportunity will provide a fundamental shift to teaching and learning to support our core mission,” said St. Lucie Public School Superintendent Genelle Yost. The Access Now program will provide students not only with a device, but also individualized, blended, interactive curriculum. Teachers will be able to personalize instruction to students to address their individual needs and learning styles. In addition, students will use various online tools and resources to collaborate and communicate with their classmates and teachers. “This is going to be a life changing educational tool for our students, some of whom do not currently have access to computers in their homes,” added Yost.
The laptops will be loaned to each student at the beginning of the school year and must be returned at the end of the year. Students will be made aware of the expectations and responsibilities that come with the care and use of the devices, including a training course, a $25 insurance fee, and the requirement that it must be brought to school every day.
Several safety measures have also been put in place. Each laptop is equipped with a filtering system that protects students from inappropriate sites and blocks them from certain social media outlets. The laptops can also be shut down remotely should they be lost or stolen. Most importantly will be the cyber safety and digital citizenship lessons taught to students.
A school wide training course will be held to ensure students understand how to be good cybercitizens, and to explain SLPS’s zero tolerance cyberbullying policy.
“As much as we want our students to be good citizens in the real world, we also want them to be safe in the digital world,” explained Yost.
What students do online can leave a permanent digital footprint. A spur of the moment decision such as posting a funny picture or sharing an angry post can resurface years later, and if they are not careful, their reputations can be forever damaged. Increasingly, colleges and employers are checking social media sites to screen their potential applicants.
In addition, a negative digital footprint can adversely affect a student’s potential future livelihood.