One-to-One Laptop Program – An Interview with the CFA Director of Technology

Every student at Cape Fear Academy in grades 3-12 will have a laptop beginning next school year. The new Headmaster, Don Berger, has led this new expansion as the school currently provides laptops for 9th to 12th grade students. Due to the success of this “one-to-one” laptop program at the school Berger led previously, he will extend it to include younger students at Cape Fear Academy.

“What we do with technology is unprecedented in the southeast,” said Brent Stimmel, Director of Technology at Cape Fear Academy. “We’re offering something very unique.”

In the third to fifth grade classrooms, a laptop cart will hold 20 computers, which students can use in class. Starting in the sixth grade, students will be assigned a laptop they can take home during the school year and use over the summer. All ninth graders will also be assigned a laptop they will be able to use through twelfth grade. To accommodate this, the school will have about 130 Asus laptops available for students this fall.

Students who prefer to use their own laptops are encouraged to bring them to school. The main point is to give everyone access so they can learn and work together through technology.

“By the time they get to college, they are used to working collaboratively in an on-line space,” Stimmel said.

Through the school’s cloud-based systems, students, teachers, staff and parents can access resources and assignments from anywhere. Cape Fear Academy will reallocate funds to be able to purchase the new laptops and will close two computer labs that are nolonger needed since each student will have access to his or her own laptop.

Cape Fear Academy also has a full-time technology facilitator, Bill Kanzinger, dedicated to working with teachers to manage and integrate technology into their lessons.

One advantage of the school’s cloud-based capability is students who are working ongroup projects can also contribute and track their project’s progress remotely. They are encouraged to work together and learn from each other.

“We give them a lot of freedom. We believe in exploration,” Stimmel said.

At the same time, the school teaches its students how to be responsible and safe on-line.

“Everybody is on-line and you’ve got to learn how to be a responsible digital citizen,” Stimmel said. “You have to be a kind and thoughtful person on-line and off-line.”

The school has also taken precautions such as installing strict filters that limit certain websites including Facebook from being accessed on campus. And it offers parents an optional four-week class about on-line safety.

Even the youngest students at the pre-Kindergarten level get to learn through using the latest technology, such as iPads, which the younger students find very intuitive especially since they do not know how to use a keyboard yet. Stimmel’s oldest child is enrolled in pre-Kindergarten at Cape Fear Academy. As a parent, he sees the benefit of teaching them how to interface with technology at a young age, especially through the school’sThink Lab, a computer lab equipped with GPS units, a SMART Board and Lego robotics and designed for small children.

“It teaches them to use technology very early before they can type or sometimes read,” he said.

In addition to these skills, Cape Fear Academy aims to develop its students’ ability to come up with innovative solutions.

“We don’t even know what the job skills in the next 20 years will be,” Stimmel said, but the creativity and critical thinking that is developed at the school will ensure their success in college and in the workplace.

Cape Fear Academy has been a leader in the educational community of southeastern North Carolina since 1967. Known for its academic excellence and outstanding college preparatory program, the pre-kindergarten through twelfth grade curriculum emphasizes hands-on learning across academic disciplines. For more information, visit www.capefearacademy.org or call (910) 791-0287.