Jan 09, 2013 (Messenger-Inquirer - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Faculty members at Owensboro Middle School realized pretty quickly that Tuesday's after-hours meeting wouldn't follow the norm.
"Yeah, all the cameras probably gave it away," said Principal George Powell. "But they don't know what we know ... yet."
Administrators surprised the group with news that Apple Inc. named OMS an Apple Distinguished School for the 2012-13 school year "for its vision and implementation of digital technology."
The district distributed 2,300 MacBook Air laptops to students in grades five through 12 in 2011 at an initial cost of $2.3 million. At least 1,400 of those machines went to students at both campuses of OMS.
"I don't know if y'all know, but this is really awesome," said Catherine Edelen, unrolling a banner with
Assistant Superintendent Matthew Constant. "This is big time."
Edelen, an Apple Inc. account executive who sells computers to the Kentucky Department of Education, said OPS' purchase order two years ago was one of the largest for a single school district in her tenure.
"We are so pleased to be awarded this recognition," said Superintendent Larry Vick. "We're just happy Apple recognizes the hard work that has taken place here."
The award -- one of 87 nationwide -- was reserved for schools that integrated Apple technology into everyday instruction and met the company's five best practices: visionary leadership, innovative learning and teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success and a flexible learning environment.
Vick credited students, teachers, Board of Education members, technicians, help desk workers and developers without whom, he said, the initiative never could have worked.
"Like a lot of cutting-edge initiatives, we were trailblazing in many instances," Vick said. "From wireless networks to new hardware, new operating systems and expanding bandwidth -- looking back, it was a little dangerous. We weren't always sure it would work ... but our team worked hard to make sure when we pushed the button, everything ran like it should."
This award validates what teachers do in the classroom every day, Powell said.
"There are a lot of ways to measure success," he told his staff. "I just want to say thank you. I know what you do and I'm so proud to be a part of it."
Constant, who helms district technology and federal programs, put the digital application together, developed in part on Apple's multimedia iBook platform.
"Believe me, this is not the kind of award you just apply for and get," he said. "I think it's absolutely groundbreaking the amount and type of technology we're using every day. I look back and think, 'Wow, this is awesome.' (OPS) is doing really, really good work."
Megan Harris, 691-7302, firstname.lastname@example.org
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