Students receive next-gen technology and access for remote learning and beyond

By: Kenrya Rankin

Inside the Verizon Innovative Learning device rollout in Houston

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A teacher at Edison Middle School welcomes families as they arrive to receive their Verizon issued devices.

This has been a back to school season like no other. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has never been a moment where it was more important for students to have access to connectivity and technology for learning. While social distancing guidelines prevented schools from having traditional device rollout events, educators at the 111 schools joining digital inclusion program Verizon Innovative Learning in the 2020-2021 school year (101 Title I middle schools and ten high schools) found creative ways to put resources in their students’ hands.

Edison Middle School is one of six Title I schools in the Houston Independent School District (HISD)—including Fleming Middle School, Hartman Middle School, Holland Middle School, Patrick Henry Middle School and Tanglewood Middle School—whose students and staff will benefit from free technology, advanced curriculum and professional development that will support them during and after distance learning. They will also enjoy 30 GB of free data access per month, as Verizon tripled the program’s pre-COVID allotment to better meet remote learning needs. Verizon Innovative Learning is part of the Citizen Verizon plan, which centers economic, environmental and social advancement to move the world forward.

In early September, Edison principal Karina Lopez and Verizon Innovative Learning coach Maiya Moore led a dedicated team as they connected more than 650 students with the tools they need to succeed. This year will be in stark contrast to last spring, when one-third of Edison students had no digital access during distance learning. “Now each student is equipped with a [device]. We can now jump over that hurdle and focus on quality and effective instruction for our students,” Lopez said. As a bonus, the school was able to pass its old set of devices on to elementary schools in the community to further help support distance learning.

Moore created a drive-through experience that leaned on technology to make it easy, and safe, for families to pick up their school schedules, sign paperwork and receive their devices. Families simply pulled up and scanned a QR code that signaled teachers and volunteers waiting inside to ready their paperwork and devices.

As the former chair of the science department, Moore is excited about what participating in the program will mean for her students. “These children have so many amazing, great ideas that need to go far beyond the reaches of the school building. Without these devices, they don't have that opportunity,” Moore said.

Watch and see how Edison Middle School put Verizon Innovative Learning-supplied devices in the hands of its students during the pandemic.

Here’s a pre-pandemic look back at a more traditional device rollout event from the 2019-2020 school year, when Verizon Innovative Learning landed at Hawkins Middle School in Newark, New Jersey.

Special thanks to Houston Independent School District for providing footage of the rollout at Edison Middle School.

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