Principal Rob Kittle discussed the new technological aspects of the school and the benefits for students.
“We are trying to get kids who are digital natives and teachers who are digital immigrants to come together,” Kittle said. “All our third-, fourth- and fifth-graders will have a laptop. In our K-2 classrooms we were able to provide them with desktops to create a technology station. I think it’s going to be a great year. We have been given all the tools to do the job we have been commissioned to do, which is to educate our students. In the past we have strived to meet all the demands, but this year we have all the tools necessary to thrive.”
The county began construction of the approximately 88,000-square-foot school in August 2012. The total cost to complete the project was $14 million and was funded from the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax. Four hundred forty students are expected to attend Emerson Elementary this school year, but the facility was built to service 750 students. Maintaining the possibility for future expansion was one concept considered during the school’s planning and construction.
Harper said in his speech to attendees, “With the planning of the board and when LakePoint develops out and this community grows as much as it’s going to grow, there is room in the back for a primary school to help with the growth. Also to help with the growth in this building, we have located playgrounds away from the building to be able to expand these buildings when the explosion of growth results from all the development coming to Bartow County.”
Joe Frank Harris Jr. was on hand to represent the Cartersville-Bartow Chamber of Commerce.
Harris said, “The chamber is so supportive of this kind of growth in our community. If we don’t get these kids educated, the workforce is not going to be there for all the growth that we are having.”
Stephanie Munch, a special area paraprofessional of technology, finished the final preparations of her classroom on Wednesday. She will teach Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and basic keyboarding.
“Last year we had to work around many computer problems,” Munch said. “One day a student would save a project on the desktop and the next day they might come in and the computer wouldn’t work. I have a lab of 30 brand new Macs and they should all be working. We can work on projects and they can come in next time they are in technology and pull up their work. We won’t have to constantly start over.
“We do a two-day rotation with the special areas so I will see them two days every eight days. I am teaching them word processing, which is a technology skill they need. However, instead of having them write about something random, I am going to coordinate with their teachers and we will be addressing skills that they are learning in other classes. I will have them write about things they are learning in science or social studies so this will pull their academic standards in with technology. That way they can see how they work together because the technology isn’t stand-alone and the academics aren’t stand-alone. We never do that in the real world. This way we can hopefully bridge the gap and they can learn word processing and learn about their social studies characters.”
One new technology featured in each classroom is a short-throw projector. The device allows teachers to display images, play audio clips and can be accessed through a laptop or digital device.
Harper said, “The projector turns a white board into a SMART board. So it’s not that we bought the SMART boards and projectors, we bought the projectors that turn a plain white board into a SMART board. The savings aspect is quite significant.”
Bartow County board member Anna Sullivan expressed her belief that having a well-educated population and viable jobs are some of the highest priorities a community can have.
“As someone who grew up in Bartow County and came back here to raise my family, I think it very important that we provide opportunities both for those individuals that want to go to college and [for the students who are not interested in college] we need good, rock solid, well paying jobs and opportunities so that when our children graduate they can stay in this community,” Sullivan said. “It has bothered me for many years that we have a brain drain of talent and skill and dedication to the community that had fewer opportunities. To be able to have those things in this community allows us to utilize the skills and the advantages that we have from people who live here and care about this community.”