A major goal of Great Bend USD 428 is to prepare its students for the world in which they live. With the purchase of iPads for kindergartners and first graders and Chromebooks for every child in grades 2-6, the district is taking a big step in making that happen.
“It’s been a goal of the board to get to this point,” said Superintendent Khris Thexton. “We are now 1:1. This gives kids more access to technology.”
“We want our students to be technologically literate rather than just know how to use a specific device,” said John Popp, assistant superintendent. “We want them to be able to teach themselves how to use technology. The technology they have today won’t be the same they have when they enter the workforce.”
“Making technology available to kids is a natural progression,” said Tricia Reiser, director of teaching and learning. “It’s the world they live in.”
Last year was the first year that Great Bend High School students were able to have 24-7 access to Chromebooks. Great Bend Middle School students carried theirs to various classes, but left them at school overnight and weekends.
“It was very successful last year,” Thexton said.
Popp noted that there were very few problems with lost or damaged devices.
“Great Bend students proved to be very responsible based on what we saw at other schools,” Popp said.
“Their respect for the property was greatly appreciated,” Thexton said, noting that graduating seniors were able to keep their devices. This was due to the district policy of replacing Chromebooks every three years.
The district was able to achieve the 1:1 goal largely through monies from the Dorothy Morrison Foundation, Rural Technology Grant and Federal Title 1 funds.
“The computers will help support the curriculum we have,” Reiser said.
“It’s another tool to help students learn,” said Thexton.
The addition of more computers for student use will not reduce the importance of books, pencils and paper, and the basic learning methods that have successfully served generations of people, Popp stressed.
“They won’t be on them full-time at school, especially at the elementary level,” Popp said. “It continues to be important for them to have hands-on paper work.”
Kindergarten through sixth graders will each have a computer – K-1 will have iPads and grades 2-12 will have Chromebooks – although they will only be accessible through a storage cart at school. Middle school students will have them to carry from class to class during the school day and high schoolers will be able to take them home.