PK-12 Half Day – Monday, September 26

There will be a half day for students in grades PK-12 on Monday, September 26 due to professional development. (This does not include ECEC Pre-K students. They will have a full day of school on September 26.)

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Red Mill Teacher Misty Hayes instructs a math lesson in front of a new ViewSonic board

Red Mill Teacher Misty Hayes instructs a math lesson in front of a new ViewSonic board in her classroom earlier this winter.

The following story is the fifth in a series about how the East Greenbush Central School District is utilizing COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government to support students affected by the pandemic. The story below will focus on investments in technology including the purchase of ViewSonic displays for classrooms, new Chromebooks for students and the creation of a new Student Help Desk.

Just about two years ago on a Friday in March, the East Greenbush Central School District closed schools for the following Monday and sent students home with Chromebooks as schools grappled with uncertainty caused by a new coronavirus. In the following days, New York State closed schools through the end of March and more closures followed that spring as students and teachers were forced to finish the school year learning and teaching from home.

Over the course of a weekend, the demand for technology transformed K-12 education. 

While the East Greenbush Central School District was better prepared than most because it had a Chromebook Program already in place, the pandemic highlighted the tremendous need for instructional technology.

Investments have been made throughout the pandemic, from the existing school budget, to purchase more chromebooks, wifi hotspots and new software to support these needs.

The allocation of COVID-19 relief funds from the federal government in 2021 provided the necessary resources to replace and reinvent technology in the East Greenbush Central School District, all with the goal of improving student learning.

A student solves a math problem on a new ViewSonic board in his classroom at Red Mill

A student solves a math problem on a new ViewSonic board in his classroom at Red Mill Elementary School.

ViewSonic Displays

The district purchased 150 ViewSonic displays to install in classrooms throughout the district. The ViewSonic displays are 75 inch monitors that serve as whiteboards at the front of the classroom.

The technology department began installing them in the evenings starting January 19. As of March 10, 128 displays have been installed and they have been well-received by teachers.

“Being given this type of technology supports me in obtaining new levels of productivity from my students,” said Red Mill 4th grade teacher Misty Hayes. “A digital tool, like the ViewSonic, not only expands their learning opportunities but also increases the support and engagement from my class. In turn, my instructional methods are only improved and more personalized.”

During a recent lesson, Mrs. Hayes wrote math problems on the ViewSonic display in the whiteboard function. Her students had their own personal whiteboard at their desks. Once they solved the problem, they held up their whiteboards for Mrs. Hayes to review their work.

Later in the lesson, she called individual students up to the board to solve equations. The students used the special pen allowing them to write directly on the ViewSonic display.

“Many of the displays that we are replacing are actually well past their useful lives,” said Director of Technology Peter Goodwin. “Our technology team has done a good job extending the life of these units for as long as possible, however, replacements of the failing units was difficult to do on the scale that the federal funds have allowed. We are thrilled to be able to provide a consistent, high quality 4K visual learning experience for our students and to provide a technology integrated platform for our teachers to innovate.”

Chromebooks

Another important initiative has been the purchase of 2,900 new Chromebooks for students. These units will replace older models that were given to students back when the 1:1 Chromebook Program began in Fall 2018. Those Chromebooks, which have been critically important throughout the pandemic, are at end of life and need to be replaced.

The new chromebooks are expected to be distributed to students in grades 3-11 during the spring, which started with 6th and 7th graders on Monday.


“We began to distribute 619 new chromebooks to grade 6 and 7 students in Goff Middle School this week,” said Mr. Goodwin. “A high priority was identified for this age range because experience has shown a higher degree of breakage in these grades. We will continue this rollout as the remaining 2,300 chromebooks arrive in the district throughout this spring.”

Students in grades K-1 will keep their existing Chrome Tablets because those are newer models and not yet in need of replacement.

Student Help Desk

Students are trained at the Columbia Student Help Desk

Student volunteers are trained at the Columbia Student Help Desk.

The Technology Department has created a new Student Help Desk in Columbia High School’s former TV studio, which is located next to the library on the 2nd floor, to help diagnose and fix Chromebook issues.

Nine student volunteers are being trained by Educational Technology Specialist Marcin Margielewski on how to operate the Student Help Desk. A monitor position was created, filled by Michael Lynagh, to provide supervision of the Student Help Desk once it is fully operational later this month.

The student volunteers visit the Help Desk during free periods and study halls. After signing in by scanning a QR code, they get to work fixing Chromebooks. They also have the opportunity to manage a ticketing and inventory system, and importantly, build problem solving and customer service skills.

“I love it,” said Jacob Allen ’23, one of the Student Help Desk volunteers who has an interest in the IT field. “It expands my knowledge of the technology industry. I thought it would just be good experience to know what it’s like as a job.”

Last week, the student volunteers were opening up Chromebooks and salvaging parts from end of life units, such as track pads and keyboards. Saving parts will allow for future repairs to be made by the students and avoid the additional cost of purchasing new Chromebooks when it is not necessary.

“The start of the Help Desk is a great opportunity for students to gain experience in the technology field,” said Mr. Margielewski. “Ultimately our main goal is to solidify customer service and team-oriented skills to increase student participation and achievement outside of curriculum. I’m thrilled to be a part of the continuous growth of Columbia High School and I hope that this program will provide key support to not only the district but to the community of East Greenbush as well.”

Students repair chromebooks at the Columbia Student Help Desk

Students repair chromebooks at the Columbia Student Help Desk.

While the Student Help Desk improves Chromebook service and frees up Mr. Margielewski so he can address other technology issues that arise in the school, it also provides hands-on training to students who are interested in a variety of tech career fields.

“When a student is able to benefit from experienced individuals, the vision for their own potential career outcomes becomes clearer,” said Mr. Goodwin. “We are providing students with first hand experiences that will strengthen their technical skills. We hope to broaden their knowledge of the IT field and we will challenge them to begin their journeys with the end in mind.”

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