New School Initiatives: One-to-One iPad Program

Dear School Community,

     In the weeks ahead I will be sending periodic updates and providing additional information regarding some of the key initiatives I outlined for the coming year. Namely, I will be discussing changes to the Spanish program, new course offerings in the middle school, the school calendar, the Common Core, and–with this communication–our technology program. We have also created an “Initiatives” tab on the website so that information about these new projects/programs in the school can be updated periodically. The purpose is to clarify how these will benefit our students, and also engender your support and understanding prior to the start of the next school year.
     Holy Family School Technology Program. Our school technology program is at an exciting point in its transition to one-to-one devices. This year’s pilot of iPads in grades 5 and 8 brought forth some strong results, and also helped to show us where the program can be strengthened. A major shift for us this year is the transition from school provided devices to a Bring Your Own iPad (BYO) program. This letter discusses this change, as well as the current benefits and challenges we face with this program.
     Some of the exciting results this year included the creative utilization of educational apps, the ability to research and bring reports to life in new and exciting ways, employing a “flipped classroom” approach, textbook support in specific content areas (such as Math), and the ability to differentiate instruction more effectively.
     But there is so much more we can do, and ongoing teacher training will be critical to our future success. A $10,000 grant obtained this year has allowed us to provide needed training for our teaching staff, but this is just the beginning. We are currently applying for an additional $20,000 grant for both the school and parish, which will also be used to develop our teachers’ capacity and facility with technology generally, and the iPad specifically. Our goal is to be able to use technology as a transformative tool, where engaged students work to their individual abilities and teachers are able to receive feedback in real time.
     The move from a school supplied iPad to a BYO iPad program is a major shift for us. This decision was not arrived at lightly. Major considerations were long-term sustainability of the program as well as the pros/cons of student/family-owned iPads vs. school-issued iPads. In making this decision we consulted with our technology committee, the school board, and local schools with one-to-one technology programs. Interestingly, we learned that many schools had made a similar transition, and were doing so successfully. In the end, we believe this change will allow Holy Family to build and sustain our one-to-one program, and also allow our families greater flexibility that comes with ownership.
     I realize this additional cost to families may be burdensome, particularly to those with multiple children who are required to participate in the program. To address this we are starting a program (beginning next year) that will provide a school-issued iPad to families with more than one child in the program. In other words, the second or third child in the program will be offered a school-issued iPad to help defray costs. To help fund this, we are utilizing a grant from Wells Fargo, and also working on additional outside funding; the goal is to fully support this program from outside sources and not take from our operating expenses. More detailed information about the program will be sent directly to those families who meet the criteria.
     In summary, we are fully committed to making our one-to-one program a successful part of the curriculum at Holy Family School. You can view detailed information about our technology program here: I look forward to working with all of you to achieve our desired future, one marked by excellence, compassion, and faith.
Frank Montejano, Ed.D