Junior Anna Beth Brock uses Photoshop on her iPad in her graphic design class at Heritage Academy. Heritage was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School Thursday afternoon. Students bring their iPads to school for classroom instruction, assignments and production. Photo by: Courtesy photo
January 18, 2019 10:22:35 AM
Heritage Academy almost wasn't recognized as an Apple Distinguished School this year.
Nearly missing the deadline, director of instructional technology Janet Lewis and teacher Brad Kidder called Heritage Academy's Apple representative and submitted the school's paperwork last-minute.
"It was a close call," Kidder said." We almost had to wait an entire year but it all worked out. It was not easy. We worked on this for months."
Heritage's high school, now one of only two Apple Distinguished Schools in Mississippi, was awarded the distinction Thursday afternoon. The school houses students in grades 9-12.
Headmaster Greg Carlyle said administrators and faculty have been working toward this distinction for more than a year.
"All along the way, the primary focus was to enhance the learning experience for our students," Carlyle said. "We were blown away. I immediately sent (the email) to Janet. It's one of those things, you work real hard and did all the leg work and you try to show what we are doing matters to our students. To have someone like Apple validate what we were doing, we were so proud. It just rises our standards and expectations. "
In order to become an Apple Distinguished School, Heritage had to be a "one-to-one" Mac or iPad program for student and faculty for more than two academic years, meaning each student and teacher had one of those devices.
Students and faculty also had to incorporate technological instruction, while having more than 75 percent of faculty recognized as Apple teachers. All administrators and more than 85 percent of Heritage classroom teachers are now Apple certified. Teachers went through professional development and training to prove technological literacy and incorporation.
"We did this as a team together," Lewis said. "It's a school-wide distinction. We did it together and we learned together and that's what it made it so successful."
No stranger to this status, Carlyle said Heritage was recognized as an Apple Distinguished School in 2009 and 2010. Carlyle said he has been working tirelessly to return to that level.
Each high school student must supply their own iPad to use for classroom instruction. Junior Lauren Short, 16, said she couldn't imagine going to school any other way.
"You get to do research instantly," Short said. "We use our iPads a lot to do our broadcasts and graphic design and I do all that on iPad. I use it a lot for online books and quizzes. There's no delay. It's definitely a privilege. You look at some schools, they don't have any type of iPad, so just to be able to (do) immediate research."
Primarily, Short uses her iPad to keep up with her assignments, write papers and hype videos for the football team.
Kidder, who teaches art, journalism and graphic design, said without this technology he could not feasibly teach his courses. With computers and iPads, Kidder said his students use nearly every adobe application, iMovie and simply the internet to gather sources and references for assignments.
"As far as taking it to the next level to what they're going to be doing in college, they could never learn about this until college if we didn't have this," Kidder said.
Kidder, who attended Heritage as a student, said he wished he had this opportunity in high school.
"If I had picked this up two years earlier, there's no telling what I would have done," Kidder said. "Now, you're really showing them what they can do and what kind of jobs you can have. I see them stepping out of school getting their first job. They understand things like that now. It's real applications. It exposes you to a lot more. You have all this information you need to put your work together."
Veteran Spanish and French teacher Hope Friesen tries to have iPad use every day in her classroom, with videos, online assignments and game applications for students to learn different languages.
"I've been in education 35 years," Friesen said. "So I've seen from no computers in a classroom to one to one. It's making them prepare for their futures. Their future is technology. I believe if they don't learn to incorporate it they will not be successful."
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