The article begins with district technology integration educator Klista Reynolds' tornado experience at Home Depot, and then talks about the first time she met with her friend, Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer:
And when she finally reunited with friend and Assistant Superintendent Angie Besendorfer—nearly a week after the Category 5 twister killed 161 people, left hundreds more injured, and gashed a trail a half-mile wide through the center of this town of roughly 50,000—she knew others also were already finding in the devastation an unusual opportunity for the district.
"She grabbed me and hugged me, and the first thing she said was, 'I'm so glad you're OK,' " remembers Reynolds. "And then after that it was, 'We get to do 21st-century schools now.' "
So began one of the more rapid and remarkable 1-to-1 laptop implementations in American public schooling—a project that Superintendent C.J. Huff had always envisioned, but never under these circumstances.
The article then reviews the implementation of the 1 to 1 initiative with quotes from students and teachers and concludes with Dr. Besendorfer's assessment of the first year under the new system:
As the district holds "dream sessions" to conceive design ideas for the town's new high school, which the Omaha, Neb.-based DLR Group that created the mall school will break ground on this spring, it's possible that a career-pathways approach to education will result. That would require even more collaboration and student production as part of the educational experience, and give more opportunities for practical use of the district-issued laptops.
But Besendorfer, the assistant superintendent, admits that, for this year at least, while it was imperative to get students back into school and give them structure, success won't be judged by whether putting laptops in classrooms results in higher test scores.
"I think we definitely know that this is their only chance at this year of their education," Besendorfer says. "It's their only junior year, it's their only 2nd grade year, it's their only everything, and it has to be a quality year.
"However, I think that quality can be measured in different ways," she says. "For some kids, a quality year of education is going to be helping them become emotionally OK again.
"If achievement drops a little bit, and we took care of our kids, and we didn't have any suicides, and we did the right kinds of things that way, … I'm not going to be concerned about that at all."