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Berwyn South School District 100 named Apple Distinguished Program

BERWYN — School District 100 has been named an Apple Distinguished Program for the 2012-2013 school year for its 1:1 Wireless Device Program.

District 100 is 100-percent one-to-one, utilizing iPads and MacBook laptops that students and staff are allowed to take home to continue their learning 24/7. Because of student and staff successes, the 1:1 initiative started as a pilot in May 2010 and turned into a necessary program for the entire district in August 2012.

The Apple Distinguished Program designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence, demonstrating Apple’s vision of exemplary learning environments.

Superintendent Stan Fields announced the award during a Board of Education meeting last month, calling it his proudest moment since becoming superintendent in 2008.

Fields said Monday the Apple Corporation has been watching the district for well over a year now.

“They have put their stamp of approval on the education we provide,” he said. “The recognition from Apple for a district like ours is quite extraordinary. We’re a high-poverty, high-minority district that has quite a number of challenges.”

Students from kindergarten through eighth grade receive individualized learning on iPads and MacBooks every day. Apps are customized for all students, reaching across various ability levels and all types of learners.

Teachers are creating 21st-century lesson plans where their students are collaborating with each other and others all over the world. Parents are learning how their children use technology as a learning tool every night, over the weekends and even during school breaks.

Shannon Soger, 1:1 coordinator and one of five instructional coaches for 1:1, is widely credited with bringing the program to District 100.

In 2009, 18 SMART Boards came to the district through the South Berwyn Education Foundation in the first big technological push, Soger said.

“That kind of started us in getting updated in technology,” she said.

She was discussing a 1:1 program that was instituted in Ohio with Fields, whom suggested she pilot a program here.

Today, every student now has either a laptop or iPad they are allowed to take home.

“We have seen an increase in test scores over the years,” Soger said. “We’ve seen a lot of suspensions decrease. The kids want to be here in school because they are so engaged and it’s a really exciting enrollment. We’ve had more than nine site visits from schools across the country.”

Soger added the real success comes as a result of a community-wide effort to achieve such high academic goals.

Berwyn South School District 100 includes more than 4,000 students in six elementary schools and two middle schools. According to the 2012 Illinois Interactive Report Card, District 100 is 78.7-percent Hispanic, 76-percent low income and 80.5 percent of students meet or exceed state standards in all academic subjects.

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