Perdue takes hand-held tech tour of Stanback Middle

Jan. 02, 2013 @ 12:41 PM


The first day back from winter break for Stanback Middle School students saw a visit from Gov. Beverly Perdue.

Perdue, making one of her last stops as governor Wednesday before leaving office at the end of the week, toured Stanback to see how Orange County Schools has integrated hand-held technology with education.

In three different classrooms, the governor observed students using Lenovo laptops to work on Google documents, conduct virtual science experiments and analyze poetry.

“This is too cool,” Perdue said. “I’ve lived in Orange County for 13 years and this school’s always at the top. I’m really proud.”

Superintendent Patrick Rhodes said that the district invested $2.6 million in sales tax revenue in a project that gave laptops to students in all of Orange County’s middle and high schools. The students can take the machines home.

“This school system rocks in terms of access to technology,” the governor told Michele Johnson’s sixth grade class. “It’s pretty cool for you all to learn using technology. Most schools in North Carolina are grappling with the decision to give students a laptop once a week, let alone every day and letting them take it home.”

Students in Johnson’s class told Perdue that the computers and Nook electronic reading devices helped perk their interest in reading. They’ve been challenged to read 40 books in 15 genres this year and many are halfway to that goal. Johnson said a lot of her students become “book zombies” as they roam the school reading their books.

Perdue told students that she grew up in a coal mining family and that she used reading for escapism.

“I figured out by fifth grade that I could get away from real life by reading books,” she said. “I’m an avid reader because it gives me a way to escape.”

Science teacher Matt Townsend praised the new laptops for providing more tools to reach kids who might be struggling.

“To have every student have access in a variety of media, not just words on a page, this is really just perfect,” Townsend said. “It’s been a real change, but it’s been a positive change.”

Stanback principal Gloria Jones said that she was pleased that Perdue chose her school of about 600 students to visit during her final week in office.

“It’s quite an honor,” Jones said.

Donna Coffey, chair of the Orange County Board of Education, shared that sentiment. She also took pride in seeing the tax dollars in action in the hands of local students.

“I’m very excited as a school board member, as a taxpayer and as a parent,” said Coffey, who has two children in Orange schools. “I love seeing what it does for children. It is the best investment we could have ever made in our future.”

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