EASLEY — Gettys Middle School was the site for a School District of Pickens County announcement of a major technology coup that will enable students and teachers at the district’s five middle schools to continue learning away from classrooms no matter the time of year.
Students and teachers at Dacusville Middle School, R.C. Edwards Middle School, R.H. Gettys Middle School, Liberty Middle School, and Pickens Middle School will receive 2,500 Galaxy tablets, donated by Samsung.
AT&T Aspire — the communications giant’s philanthropic arm — will provide 4G connectivity for the tablets for the next three years through a $5 million grant.
Superintendent Dr. Danny Merck said the initiative will make an immediate impact for some 2,500 students and teachers.
“I can’t wait to see how our teachers are going to use these tools to help our kids learn and achieve,” Merck said Aug. 31 at the event. “Giving a student a device is great, but if the student’s family doesn’t have internet access, that device becomes less useful when the student goes home from school. Providing a device and access will open up so many doors for learning and put all of our sixth- and seventh-graders on a more level playing field when it comes to technology.”
The inclusion of connectivity to the Samsung devices was achieved through a grant from AT&T for which SDPC applied. A representative of the communications company spoke to what the program is about and what AT&T hopes to accomplish.
“This is part of a larger national effort called ConnectED. We are going to be providing wireless connectivity for the next three years for these students in Pickens County,” said Ted Creech, director of External Affairs AT&T SC. “Not only will the students be able to use their devices within their classrooms but they will also be able to use them at home, or wherever, for homework assignments and research. AT&T is very committed to education and through AT&T Aspire we are working to reduce the dropout rate among the students across the country.”
AT&T will provide wireless connectivity and some behind the scenes support for SDPC as well.
According to Creech, SDPC will be receiving device management capabilities to ensure a highly secure environment on ConnectED devices, professional training for teachers, and tools to teach responsibility when using web devices.
Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T SC, spoke to the importance of these types of programs in today’s world.
“Technology is fundamentally altering education, both in terms of how it is delivered and what is needed to succeed in today’s global economy and culture,” she said in an issued statement. “At AT&T, we believe there is no better investment for the future that an investment in the education of children. So not only are we building the networks which deliver advanced, high-speed service, but we are also working to drive the changes needed to help teachers teach and students learn anywhere, anytime.”
Merck also shared a message from Gov. Nikki Haley, who sent her congratulations to share. The letter from the governor’s office read in part:
“It’s a great day in Pickens County as you celebrate this announcement of this national award that will impact the schools, students, and families throughout your district. The Palmetto State is competing in a 21st century economy, and investing in technology both in and outside of the classroom plays a vital role in ensuring we are teaching for the future, not the past. Your accomplishment in receiving this grant is a testament to your commitment to excellence in education, and I thank you for setting a high standard for other districts across our state.”
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.