Updated: Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011, 9:21 PM EST
Published : Wednesday, 09 Feb 2011, 5:37 PM EST
LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - The latest and greatest technology is at McCutcheon High School English teacher Sarah Powley's fingertips, and she said it has changed her classroom.
"What's been so exciting about it is I can do instantly some of the things what I wanted to do for a real long time," Powley said.
Both Harrison and McCutcheon High Schools have new Centers for Advanced Studies. The centers opened this January, providing the classrooms in the centers high tech equipment. Each room is equipped with an interactive white board, camera projector, lapel microphone and speakers and about 32 PC tablets for students.
"A student can be sitting in a chair and click one button and it sends their screen to the projector," explained Tippecanoe School Corporation (TSC) Technology Coordinator Jamie Ramos. "Students are able to present and show their screen from wherever they are."
TSC Director of Technology and Information Services Mike Watson said the centers are more than just a building.
"This is a philosophy of how 21st century education should really look. Students are learning differently and teachers are teaching differently," Watson said.
McCutcheon Photography teacher Sherry Brechbiel's dreams have come true because of the Center of Advanced Studies.
"Being able to create the type of atmosphere I've always wanted to teach in really has made a big, big difference in how I respond to the kids and how they respond to the classroom," she explained.
McCutcheon Chemistry and Physics teacher Cheryl McLean said most students embrace computers and other means of technology, which makes learning even easier.
"We all know if we enjoy doing something, we are going to do it well. So when they enjoy learning and they are willing to spend the time on it and preserver through tough times, I think that is the biggest thing I have observed," McLean said.
Students can't use the excuse that their dog ate their homework for classes in the new center.
"We do all our homework online," said McCutcheon Junior Daniel Saunders. "We can use drop boxes on the computer to turn in homework and we can even take tests online."
Teachers said students are waiting in line for the doors to open at least an hour before school begins and also spend many hours after school in the center's lounge area. The Centers for Advanced Studies at both high schools have lounge chairs and tables for students to sit and use the school's laptops. There are also study rooms students can take advantage of for group sessions.
TSC Superintendent Scott Hanback said both Harrison and McCutcheon's Advanced Studies centers are funded through bonds. The corporation is using its Debt Service Fund to pay off the bonds. The budget planning began in 2006 for both Centers for Advanced Studies.
"I'm really, really happy that the school board and the administrators took the risk in the midst of everything else that is going on in education right now and went a head with this project and decided this was what was best for our kids," Brechbiel said.
Next year's freshman classes at both high schools will be issued laptops. Ramos said all the classrooms at the high schools are being equipped with some of the same technology as the classrooms in the centers have. This way, teachers will be able to teach using computers and other equipment.