Nine-year-old Savannah Slack had been waiting for this day ever since the end of last school year.It wasn’t the first day of school she was anticipating. Savannah had been waiting for the day when she’d get her first school-issued laptop computer.“It’s all she’s talked about the last two weeks,” said her father, Robert.Savannah, a rising fourth-grader at Mooresville Intermediate School, was among the fourth- through eighth-grade students who picked up their laptop computers from Aug. 19-21.It was part of the Mooresville Graded School District’s digital conversion program, which puts computers in the hands of all students and teachers for use in and out of the classroom. The program has drawn national recognition for what it’s done for the district’s academic success, with graduation rates and grade-level test scores among the highest in North Carolina.By the end of the deployment session, nearly 2,700 laptop computers (all 11-inch Apple MacBook Air models) had been issued to students attending three schools – Mooresville Intermediate and East Mooresville Intermediate (both fourth through sixth grades), and Mooresville Middle School (seventh and eighth grades).“It’s really funny – when we started this, people were like, ‘You’re going to give a laptop to a fourth-grader?’ ” said Scott Smith, MGSD’s chief technology officer. “But the fourth-graders, they love it and care for it. They take better care of the machines than some of the other kids do. That’s true of the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders.“There’s this whole sense of responsibility, that ‘it’s my machine.’ Yeah, it belongs to the school district, but they’re all like, ‘it’s my machine, I’ve got to take care of it.’ As they roll up through the grades, that sense stays with them, which helps us because they’re taking care of the investment.”And the Mooresville district has made quite an investment – throw in the laptops for the ninth- through 12th-graders at Mooresville High School to be issued on the first day of classes Aug. 26, as well as the laptop carts and individual laptops available for the kindergarten through third-grade students and the bigger 13-inch MacBook Airs issued to teachers, the district’s Technology Department will have given out more than 4,500 computers in less than a week. The district leases the laptops at a cost of $950,000 per year, said Terry Haas, the Mooresville district chief financial officer.But for Savannah – who had a laptop issued to her as a third-grader, but it remained at school – and her father, their trip through the multiple stages in the deployment process Aug. 19 at Mooresville High School’s Magnolia Street Annex was a first.It began with paperwork – lots of paperwork, with both Savannah and Robert Slack signing forms guaranteeing she would abide by the terms of the district’s computer usage agreement. Then a trip down the hall to a waiting classroom, where fourth-graders (and new students) and their parents underwent a brief training session on the dos and don’ts of using their laptops.After paying a $50 “technology usage fee” per student – the Slack family also has a son, Trevor, a rising junior at MHS – the moment Savannah has waited for finally arrived: getting her laptop computer.A runner took Savannah’s paperwork and scanned a barcode imprinted on it, revealing which laptop from the shelves and shelves full of MacBook Airs would be issued to her. Another runner pulled the correct laptop from the shelf and handed it and the paperwork to technician Berry Williams, who scanned the paperwork’s barcode again as well as a barcode on the laptop to make sure the right one was being issued.A few more steps – making sure the laptop actually worked and setting up her individual password, which only she and her parents know – and a smiling Savannah and her father were out the door.
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013
Savannah’s big day behind the keyboard
Kiser: 704-895-3662; Twitter: @BKiser_CLTObs
The Charlotte Observer welcomes your comments on news of the day. The more voices engaged in conversation, the better for us all, but do keep it civil. Please refrain from profanity, obscenity, spam, name-calling or attacking others for their views.
Have a news tip? You can send it to a local news editor; email firstname.lastname@example.org to send us your tip - or - consider joining the Public Insight Network and become a source for The Charlotte Observer.Read moreRead less