A tech transformation at Tucson middle school

More equity, creativity and leadership are among the “amazing changes” taking place at Secrist Middle School.

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Secrist students Damon Foster and Gabriel Guayante use their Verizon-provided tablets to respond to their teacher’s prompts during class.

When Ameel Attallah was teaching at the Delbert L. Secrist Middle School in Tucson three years ago, the school was struggling. But with a new principal, Debbee Garcia, at the helm—a principal who had high hopes for the school, Attallah adds—things turned around quickly. Garcia applied for Secrist to become a Verizon Innovative Learning School, a decision that was pivotal to the school’s transformation. “I have seen amazing changes in our school culture and climate,” Garcia says.

Secrist is one of the most recent schools to become a Verizon Innovative Learning School. What started with just eight schools in four districts in 2014 has grown to 561 schools in 94 districts nationwide, providing a lifetime of change for students and educators. Verizon Innovative Learning Schools are part of Verizon Innovative Learning, the transformative education initiative that began more than a decade ago.

When Attallah returned to the school this year after working elsewhere, he witnessed a technology explosion that has radically changed the school, thanks to Verizon Innovative Learning. Now, students are equipped with individual devices and data plans; Attallah is working as a Coach, supporting his colleagues and students in adopting new learning styles in the classroom. He coaches, models, and co-teaches, as well as helps educators to better serve their students. “Having the 1:1 [tablets] in our school helped teachers locate those students who need more support, and provide that support during the lesson, on the spot,” Attallah says.

Plus, Garcia says, students are finding ways to help one another. “I’m most excited about the growth that our students have been able to make in such a short amount of time,” she says. “They’re now helping one another—so they’re taking on leadership roles.”

With technology that allows students to stay connected at home, as well, Attallah says the students are fully supported whether in class or doing homework on their own. “They can research, they can be creative,” he says. “There’s no limit.”

Through Verizon Innovative Learning HQ, educators can access free learning apps, lesson plans and professional development courses aligned to micro-credentials by visiting www.verizon.com/learning.

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