- Associated Press - Monday, August 11, 2014

BRISTOL, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee High School students will have a new tool to help with their education as classes begin this week - laptop computers.

The Bristol Herald Courier (http://bit.ly/1ughwAG) reports new Dell Latitude laptops will be handed out Monday when students return to classes in the East Tennessee school district.

Bristol City Schools Director Gary Lilly said each student must pay an annual $50 usage fee for the computer, but assistance is available for low- to moderate-income families.

“This is no different than giving a student in our career and technical programs the tools they need to prepare them for a future career,” he said.

“We think that educationally it is almost demanded now that we provide current professional tools for students to learn with. I want them to have the opportunity to learn using the same tools in the workplace. We think it will give them an advantage when they enter the work force.

“If they’ve had that exposure to professional tools so when we teach them to write, to research and to collaborate on things that professionals do, we want them to have that opportunity. We want to provide the most updated equipment and access to technology that we can for students.”

Lilly said a curriculum specialist has been working with teachers to help them integrate the technology into their lesson plans.

THS Principal Mary Rouse said teachers are excited about using the technology with students.

“Change is hard for anybody anytime, but they see this as an opportunity to level the playing field for our kids,” Rouse said. “Professional development will be very important during this process because it will be of no benefit to hand everybody a computer but not knowing how to use it. Our intent is to have the teachers get the tools they need to do more than just produce a handout to scan.

“We want to show them the different ways to research things and complete projects. My teachers are very excited because I wasn’t sure how that transition would be because this will involve all new lesson plans and engaging students using the laptops.”

___

Information from: Bristol Herald Courier, http://www.bristolnews.com