Technology and access benefits high school students in remote learning

By: Kenrya Rankin

Verizon Innovative Learning helps Compton teen thrive

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A smiling Jania shows off her custom mask.

Since 2012, Verizon Innovative Learning has provided under-resourced middle schools around the country with next-generation STEM technology, professional development, and free devices and data access that students can use both at school and at home. For the 2020-2021 academic year, the program expanded to include not only 101 new Title I middle schools, but an additional ten high schools in Irving, Texas, and Compton, California—its first venture into high schools. The biggest winners in this expansion are perhaps the incoming students who can now continue to thrive with the program’s resources they’re used to as they transition to high school.

Centennial High School freshman Jania Llerenas is one of those students. Jania—whose current favorite subject is math—credits Verizon Innovative Learning with helping her get more organized and bringing up her grades from B’s and C’s to A’s and B’s after she transferred to Bunche Middle School for the eighth grade. “Before I didn’t really use technology at all,” she says. Now, the program has opened a whole new world for the charming and cheerful Compton, California, teen. “I want to be in the robotics field because it's really fun and exciting.”

Jania discovered her interest in STEM after joining a tech class taught by Verizon Innovative Learning coach Jose Gonzalez, and went on to join the robotics team and participate in STEAMFest and First Lego League competitions. She even created a film encouraging fifth graders to go into STEM and dreamed up a sustainable mall of the future. Outside of school, she loves to draw and play with her sisters. “I’m super proud of her,” says Gonzalez. “I know there’s a better future where I see girls like Jania. There’s no limits to what they can do.”

Now that she’s attending Verizon Innovative Learning partner school Centennial, Jania is using the resources provided by the initiative—a key part of Verizon’s goal to help move the world forward for all as part of Citizen Verizon—to overcome spotty internet access that hindered her remote learning experience at the start of the school year. “Connectivity is a problem for a lot of the students at Centennial. Now with the data package, we have resolved a lot of those problems,” says Centennial Verizon Innovative Learning coach Robbye Williams.

Watch and learn how Verizon Innovative Learning’s high school expansion is helping Jania thrive.

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