(Fairfield, VT) Educators, students, and their parents have all played a key role in the growing presence of computer and information technology at Fairfield Center School. Through the efforts of the e-Vermont initiative, Fairfield Center received a netbook computer for every student in its 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classrooms. In addition, students have been receiving comprehensive training, facilitated by Digital Wish, on the integration of the new technology into the classroom and on the use of Web 2.0 applications. Students then had the opportunity to bring the netbooks home in the evenings to share what they were learning with their families and become teachers themselves. This combined enthusiasm and community connection has resulted in the school board approving $30,000 for further technology integration at Fairfield Center School. Principal Jennifer Wood described the teacher and parent response of the e-Vermont initiative as “very positive,” and elaborated on how parents of the participating students were at the school budget information meeting to advocate for the approval of more technology funding come Town Meeting Day.
This is not the only change that has been happening for the school and town, however. Ms. Wood explained further how they will be upgrading their school’s DSL connection by a 15 megabyte increase of data, as she believes proper education and access to the web is important for students since the Internet is the “world as we know it” today. She also said that several families in the Fairfield School District have upgraded to a broadband Internet connection for their homes following the introduction of the e-Vermont program. More families were able to make that change after local outreach was provided by Comcast. She also proudly noted that the introductory Digital Wish Parent Night (where families learned about the technology their students received and the grant that made it possible) had one of the highest turnouts Fairfield Center has seen for a school-parent event.
Parent/teacher conferences experienced a shift in focus this year as well. Meetings were centered around work that was produced exclusively on the netbooks the classrooms received, with teachers and parents alike explaining how they were impressed with students’ increased knowledge and skill with navigating technology. Some parents even reported their children teaching them new things that could be done on the computers. As if Fairfield Center’s gratitude for the e-Vermont initiative couldn’t be more apparent, on the last session of the Digital Wish program the trainers were presented with handmade thank-you cards from the principal and all of the participating students – in addition to a couple of bottles of Fairfield’s own organic maple syrup.