Academy prepares for new laptop initiative

CORNELIUS – Rising ninth-graders at Hough High School will be able to put down their pencils and notebooks and spend more time on laptop computers and other digital devices.

Through the Hough High School 1:1 Laptop Initiative, students are encouraged to incorporate more technology into their coursework by bringing computers to school. Since this is a pilot program for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, teachers and staff are being trained on ways to incorporate new programs and online tools into their lessons such as offering lecture notes online or presenting ideas in a new way. The laptop initiative is similar to those at Lake Norman Charter and the Mooresville Graded School District.

“(Principal) Dr. (Laura) Rosenbach came from Bradley Middle and students from Bradley and Bailey (Middle) were using technology so much more,” said Hough teacher Justin Keene, who is helping with the technology training. “We just had a handful of computer labs. It was such a disservice. We needed to make a change.”

Students will have the opportunity to learn about some of the more enjoyable things they can do with computers during Geek Squad Academy on July 15-16 at Hough High, thanks to a partnership with Best Buy. The free class is available to 2014-15 Hough students, though the registration deadline is June 22. Participants will be chosen through a lottery system.

“We partner with local nonprofit organizations to teach students in a fun, interactive learning environment about the latest technology in classes such as digital photography, digital film production, digital literacy, robotics, 3D printing and digital music,” said Best Buy for Business Strategic Accounts Manager Kevin Lackey. “During Geek Squad Academy, students will develop technology skills, inspire future education and career choices and build friendships through activities such as storyboarding and producing a film, or collaborating on digital media projects.”

The partnership with Best Buy will continue throughout the year. Starting in July, the school website will have a Best Buy portal for Hough students to buy laptop computers and other devices. Plus, Best Buy is starting a Jr. Geek Squad at the school for students to learn more and help their peers. Those wanting to participate in the Jr. Geek Squad are encouraged to participate in the academy.

“Most young people today are growing up with technology and are using it in every aspect of their lives,” Lackey said. “School should be no exception. At Best Buy, we believe every student should have access to technology. We offer a wide variety of tablets, laptops and e-readers designed for classroom use, and we have partnered with schools around the country to provide devices.”

Buying and bringing computers to school is voluntary. Equipment will be available for use in the classroom, plus the school is seeking grants and donations to get more devices. The school has also partnered with Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D) to give families unable to buy a computer the chance to rent to own one. Many incoming students eligible for the computers already received them as middle-schoolers at Bailey, though E2D Founder Pat Millen said they will help new families. Those interested should contact the school to see if they qualify.

“We have found students who are achieving the most at the secondary level are the ones who have access to technology,” Millen said. “We want to make those resources available to everyone.”

Keene said the move to introduce more technology also gets students ready for life outside of the classroom.

“We are really preparing kids for what’s next,” Keene said. “We need to shift to get them more ready for life after high school.”


Want to learn more? Get a jump on new programs, like digital photography and digital music, through Geek Squad Academy held at Hough High in partnership with Best Buy July 15-16. All Hough High students are eligible to participate in the free class. Register through the Hough High website under School Announcements or learn more at The deadline to sign up is June 22.