Manchester High School students to receive Chromebooks this fall

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Thu., Jul. 18, 2013
Manchester High School Principal Matthew Geary strongly believes that the Chromebooks will increase student engagement. Photo courtesy of - Contributed Photo

Manchester High School Principal Matthew Geary had exciting news to share with the school community on July 10. In a letter to students and parents/guardians, he revealed that every student will be issued a Chromebook - a Google laptop that utilizes cloud data storage - for use this fall.

This is made possible in part by a 20-month, $450,000 grant the school received from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, which the school announced receipt of in the spring. The grant is being used to support many educational areas at the school, among them is the focus on "implementing student-centered instructional strategies through blending traditional teaching with technology."

With this goal in mind, a portion of the Nellie Mae funds were designated for the the purchase of Chromebooks for ninth-grade students and students in the school's new Medical Careers Academy. Supplementing the Nellie Mae funds are monies from Manchester public schools, which received more than $2 million in Alliance Grant funding to support district initiatives. High school administrators submiited a proposal to the superintendent requesting funds from the Alliance Grant, which was endorsed by the Board of Education on July 8.

"The purpose of this Chromebook initiative is to provide access to technology, at school and at home, to transform learning and assessment," explained Geary. "This will occur through the regular integration of student research, presentations, and authentic publication of work in all classrooms."

The Chromebooks will allow teachers to give one-on-one attention to students. Assessments of student work and progress will be done in an efficient, timely fashion, Geary said. He also believes that when using exciting technology to help students interact with increasingly rigorous learning models, their participation increases. In addition, the use of "web-based skill building tools" allows students to control the pace and time of their school work, which in turn has the potential for allowing more time on focused learning and intervention. "Providing credit recovery opportunities through the use of online learning is a strategy we hope to expand, as we already have successfully implemented online credit recovery on a small scale," Geary wrote.

Understanding that some in the community may be leery of the fact that expensive equipment will be loaned to teens, Geary had this to say. "While distributing devices that cost approximately $270 each to students may cause concern, I would remind you that we distribute up to eight books to students each year and the cost of these books exceeds the cost of the devices we plan to distribute."

Students and parents can purchase $30 insurance for the Chromebooks. Going forward, technology funds already included in the BOE's budget will be used to replace devices over time, if needed.

"Significant work has been done already to increase student achievement and improve school climate at MHS," wrote Geary. "The shift in teaching and learning that will be made possible by the addition of Google Chromebooks for all students is another step in the path to a new and improved Manchester High School."

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