Bland Talks About Tech Needs For Pocahontas County Schools
Green Bank, WV – Pocahontas County Schools may be a rural school system, but Ruth Bland wants to make sure that the schools have the same technological advantages as their more urban counterparts. Bland recently left the job of Principal at Green Bank Elementary Middle school to take the Director of Special Education/Student Support Services position at the Board of Education office in Marlinton. She’s also the Technology Coordinator for the schools.
Bland says the Tools For Schools program, an allotment of money from the West Virginia legislature funded by lottery revenues, helps pay for tech upgrades to the schools. Last year, Hillsboro Elementary, Marlinton Elementary and Marlinton Middle schools received upgrades. This year Pocahontas County HS and Green Bank will be upgraded. Bland says because of its proximity to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Green Bank requires a little specialized attention.
“Now of course we have some challenges up here because we don’t have the capability to do the wireless” says Bland. “But we had new cabling over the summer, we have drops in the ceilings, and we have projectors in the ceilings now and all of our teachers have mimeos and laptops and presentation stations.”
The Mimeo is an interactive device that gives teachers more options to engage their students.
“If the children are coming home and saying
Mrs. Himelrick did something on the Mimeo today’, you gotta come down and see what that thing is because it is really great!” says Bland. “It’s an interactive white board; children can go up and actually manipulate the computer from the white board. There’s no longer chalk boards in the school; and the white board actually becomes the desktop computer.”
Bland says that’s not the only new tool being employed in the schools.
“We are doing electronic portfolios for our eighth grade students, they are also doing hard copy portfolios” she says. “Our special education teachers have IPADs now, and there are wonderful IPAD applications for education that download right on to the IPAD; flashcards and sight word practice, all sorts of wonderful applications. Technology is really opening the door to more opportunities for children in education.”
She says Frontier Communications has run the fiber optic cable needed to connect the systems at Green Bank. Those connections are expected to be completed as soon as they get a new router. She says all of the schools had to purchase new equipment to keep up with technology requirements.
“All of the school actually had to purchase new racks” she says. “When we talk about racks, we have switches in our school that send that signal out to all the different classrooms, so you have all these wires that are coming out of these switches and switches that are connected together in a router. So we had to buy new racks to put this new router in, which is a 50 pound router. More and more of the teachers are teaching from wonderful sites that you can access on the internet.”
She says in some ways, teachers have a little catching up to do to keep up with kids.
“Our kids have been used to those video games and computer games, and we call them digital natives” says Bland. “We’re digital immigrants. They know how to work it all in the colors and the fast pace; it makes for a different learning style. We have to adapt to that learning style.”