Teachers being taught this week

Tryve Brackin
COORDINATORS...North Iberville Elementary Principal Evelyn Gauthreaux, left, and Optional Education Center Principal Alnita Miller, right, coordinated the orientation program for public school teachers this week with Apple personnel instructing in the use of laptops.

Iberville Parish school system teachers went to school and learned basic lessons this week as the initial stages of bringing 400 Apple Mac-book laptop computers and IPods into the local schools began in earnest at the Optional Education Center in Plaquemine Monday.

Representatives and certified instructors from Apple, Corp. began a weeklong session of classes for local teachers in the first of many phases underway to bring laptop computers into everyday use in the schools for both teachers and students.

North Iberville Elementary Principal Evelyn Gauthreaux and Optional Education Center Principal Alnita Miller and the Apple instruction team coordinated the orientation program this week. School system Supervisor of Technology Richard Ellis and his technical crew were on hand.

Ellis said expectations were to train over 490 public school system teachers in the basics of Apple laptop use. Next week, center office and school principals are scheduled to visit a school system in North Carolina that has integrated Mac-books into its teaching program.

The next phase, according to Ellis, will be visits by the parish technical group to each school for more in depth training and guidance.

A third phase will be the providing of laptops and in depth computer training for Math, Science, and Arts Academy students. Wireless connections have been set up at a handful of parish schools, but more will be added in the future. Starting with MSA, the laptops and training will be provided to the schools that have wireless ability. Ellis explained that wireless connecting is an expensive endeavor and the school system is awaiting federal assistance to complete the links with all of the schools. Projected is a completion date, and laptops for every public school student and teacher, by 2012.

“Right now we are in the training stage. All the teachers will be instructed, then the students at the schools with wireless systems already installed. Next, we await federal funds to complete the installations at all the schools,” explained Ellis.

There also has been remodeling done at schools to prepare for future computer labs. Ellis said a previous IBM room at White Castle High School has been remodeled and prepared for future use.

Initial funding for the new technology and its implementation has come from a combination of federal funding, general fund contributions, and a portion of parish sales tax.