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STEM School technology draws attention of School Board members

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CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - Hamilton County school officials want to put iPads, or similar devices in the hands of as many students as possible, as soon as possible. They say it's the wave of the future. That's why they visited the "school of the future" Friday, already up and running, on the campus of Chattanooga State.

It's the STEM School, which stands for science, technology, engineering and math. In its first year, the school is already being hailed as a success by educators, parents and students.

Bailey Crittenden, an East Ridge 9th grader who is among the initial class of 75 freshmen said, "I feel I'm getting smarter, and by using technology instead of textbooks, I'm getting a better education than i would have in a regular school." Visitors from Hamilton County's Central Office and School Board Technology Committee took a student-led tour. No doubt among the first things they noticed: no textbooks; in fact, very little paper at all.

Principal Tony Donen said, "We have very little paper around here. The iPads are integral to what we do. It puts the knowledge into the kids' hands. We teach them how to use that knowledge."

The school was funded with a mix of local tax dollars, state grants, business partners, and Chattanooga State. This year, it started out with 75 ninth graders, and according to Donen, almost all are coming back next year, along with a new group of freshmen. By 2015, it will be a 300-student high school, with grades 9-12. Its strong start, with an emphasis on iPads and independent learning, is catching the attention of parents countywide.

Although some believed the school's science-based curriculum would attract more male students, more than half of the student body is female.  Several students praised the school's schedule, which is from 9:30 until 4:30 daily.  One student said, "I get eight hours sleep every night, and am well rested each day.  At my previous school, classes started at 7:15 each morning, and I was lucky to get six hours sleep."

School Board members say they'll take the lessons learned at the STEM school to their colleagues, in hopes of making every school more focused on tomorrow's technology, today.

CONTACT DAVID CARROLL:  dcarroll@wrcbtv.com

ON TWITTER: www.twitter.com/DAVIDCARROLL3



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