19 Apr CCSD school focuses on technology to improve student achievement

When Principal Dr. Christy Beaird arrived at Laura Dearing Elementary School, she had a clear vision of what she wanted to do in order to improve student achievement. Basically, it boiled down to improving the quality of instruction at the school through technology.

As simple as that sounds, there was plenty of work to be done in terms of having teachers prepared so they could instruct the students and, in order to instruct students, the school needed to have the technology resources.

Being a Title I school helped with the additional funding in obtaining resources, but another key for moving the school forward was hiring Teacher Mike Lang, a 15-year veteran of the Clark County School District.

“One of our goals is to become an Apple Distinguished School and for us to attain that goal it certainly helps to have an Apple Distinguished Educator on our staff,” said Beaird. “Mike is one of only four active Apple Distinguished Educators in the state of Nevada, so we are fortunate to have him not only as a resource in the classroom for our students, but also for our teachers.”

Utilizing Lang’s insight and knowledge, the school has launched bold initiatives and part of the investment included the purchase of iPads and a large circulation of e-books. With resources and staff in place, the move forward included incorporating it into the curriculum.

“We approached this with the thought of, ‘What can we do to keep kids interested in school,’” said Beaird. “We want to keep our lessons engaging, so we introduce them to technology right away.”

“Right away” means visitors to the school will find the teachers instructing students on how to code beginning in kindergarten. The emphasis on technology is visible in a snapshot that Lang provided.

“We have third-graders working with students in Brazil and we have fifth-grade students working together at home on their homework through technology,” said Lang. “Here at Dearing, we like to think in terms of destinations – where are our students going – and through technology, we have been able to create many new opportunities. We have a very dedicated staff and they are willing to take risks to improve.”

Currently, the school has about 770 students and like many schools in Performance Zone 7, their student population continues to grow well past the capacity of their original building. In order to accommodate that growth, the school will be receiving a new wing that will replace 16 portable classrooms.

Beaird already has plans for the new wing, which include the creation of a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classroom to support their emphasis on student’s becoming proficient with technology and using it to enhance their learning.