Heartland school receives distinction from Apple

Teachers, faculty, staff, administration, and others from Knox Co. Schools (KTVO)

Apple representatives from St. Louis and Chicago came to Edina, Missouri on Wednesday.

It was to award the Knox County R-I School District with something that around 400 schools around the world also share – being an Apple Distinguished School.

“Our students now, even our kindergartners, do not know a world without some kind of device in their hands, they’re used to it,” Superintendent Andy Turgeon explained. “Times are changing so fast and that’s the problem that we run into.”

That’s where five years ago, the district got an idea to go to a one-to-one ratio with iPads.

“There are so many opportunities out there, but our kids aren’t exposed to those, so that was one of our goals moving forward, is let’s expose them to stuff they may not realize they’re gifted at and excited about,” Turgeon said.

Now students in the district are using technology like a broadcast room, a 3D printer, and the iPads, in unique ways.

“We do have a curriculum we do have to teach but it doesn’t mean the kids can’t choose how they’re going to present what they’re learned, and how to apply it, so it’s been a positive thing for our students,” Turgeon said.

One of those examples was in a high school government class on Wednesday.

“My group and I, there were three of us, took three songs from Hercules and we rewrote the lyrics to explain the first continental congress, the second continental congress, and the Declaration of Independence and then we recorded it and put it into iMovie, and on top of that audio we put quotes, pictures, information, about those three topics, so we were able to integrate our personal gifts into this project which was awesome, it was really fun,” said Natalie Clark, a junior at Knox County High School.

Apple has taken notice, Knox County R-I Schools are now an Apple Distinguished School.

According to its website, the Apple School Distinction is by an invitation-only process.

Schools have to have a one-to-one program, use Apple platforms in an innovative way, the school faculty is required to be proficient with technology, and results need to be documented.

“Students kind of have that sense of they trust us to do the right thing, and in response they kind of treat us the same way,” Turgeon said. “It’s just creating that atmosphere where people just want to be here.”

“I think especially for our younger kids, it’s really made school fun and you really want to come to school because you don’t know what you’re going to do that day,” said Laura Mayer, a senior at Knox County High School. “It’s always kind of a new adventure.”

“I have a strong belief that every kid has a unique gift,” Turgeon said. “Unless we know what that gift is, it’s hard for us to help the students with it, so by creating opportunities for our students we can maybe help them develop that gift and really maybe do something purposeful in life.”

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