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Five Compton schools win Apple grants

Bursch, Carver, Jefferson, and Kelly elementary schools along with Walton Middle School are among 114 schools in 29 states nationwide that were selected to receive Apple grants through the White House’s ConnectED Initiative.

The ConnectED Initiative is a $100 million pledge by Apple designed to empower teachers with the best technology, the training to make the most of it, and empowers students through individualized learning and rich digital content.

The awards will provide each school with iPads for every student at the campus; iPad Minis and Apple Notebooks for all the teachers and administrators as well as Apple TV and educational software for every classroom.

In addition, an Apple Education team will be assigned to support each ConnectED school, working closely with leadership to make sure that each school’s technical and educational needs are considered and their strategies are executed successfully. A professional development specialist will also help ensure that teachers are prepared to integrate technology into their curriculum.

As you listen to RoseMarie Hickman, Ed.D., talk about what the Apple grant will mean to Walton, there is no doubt about the excitement and sheer pride she feels about the award, which she and the other school principals found out about Tuesday.

“On June 12, Superintendent Brawley sent out a message to all principals (about the grant) and encouraged us to read more information about it and to apply,” remembers Hickman.

Pulling together her leadership team, which she said was actually off work and on summer vacation, Hickman told the Walton story in a series of five essays that served as part of the application process.

“We told why we thought we would be a great candidate, and invited Apple to join us. That process actually helped us shape our mission,” said Hickman, who is in her second year as principal at the school and sprinkles her conversation with endearments that include calling youngsters attending the school “her children” and “my scholars.”

She also operates under the principle (and tells the youth this repeatedly) that despite the fact that Walton is a school where 96 percent of students qualify for the federal free and reduced price lunch program, they can do anything they want.

“I don’t believe the demographics dictates the destiny of children,” said Hickman.

In fact, the Walton mission statement demonstrates just that. The school leadership intends to use the Apple grant to  improve the Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) program at the school by infusing its robotics class with up-to-date technology, and taking the level of learning for all the youth in the school to the next level in the process of making the school an example of academic excellence.

At Bursch Elementary, third-year principal Ronald Stamper also wants to prepare his student for a technological future and intends to use the Apple grant his school received to turn his high-poverty campus into a magnet academy that uses technology-blended learning where students are guided to do project-based learning with the help of instructors and on their own.

“We are honored and privileged to be awarded this grant,” said Stamper, adding that now his students can use technology throughout the day rather than just during the approximately 45 minutes daily they had prior to winning the grant.

Like Walton, the majority of Bursch student are eligible for the free and reduced lunch program. Additionally, the school has 60 special education students with moderate to severe needs including a number of non-verbal pupils.

“We’re thrilled to learn that five of our schools have been selected by Apple for this grant,” said Compton Unified School District Superintendent Darin Brawley. “Students and their teachers will benefit from this technology where it matters most, in the classroom, as we continue our work to make Compton students college and career ready.”

The grants enable the Compton schools to help students develop the technological skills necessary to succeed in college and careers, added Brawley.

“If we are going to bridge the educational gap for working class communities like Compton, technology is going to play a major role,” said Micah Ali, president, Compton Unified School Board. “This grant from Apple not only will help continue to increase the success of our students in Compton but also may inspire them to pursue careers in the fast growing areas of STEM.”

In addition to the Compton schools, XXX local campuses were awarded Apple grants. They are George Washington Carver Elementary School