At Harris Middle School, excited students — with parents in tow — waited in line to pick up their iPad Friday.
Verizon Wireless selected Harris and three other middle schools in the San Antonio Independent School District for a digital innovation grant, providing tablets for every teacher and student.
Each tablet comes with 5 gigs of data a month, according to district spokeswoman Leslie Price, enabling students to connect to the internet at home.
After picking up her iPad, Harris Middle School student Alondra Hernandes said she was looking forward to being able to use it for homework.
“Before it was all in paper,” Herandes said.
Students and teachers at Longfellow, Rhodes and Whittier middle schools also received tablets and data plans.
Harris Principal Carol Velasquez said her teachers used to be limited in the types of homework they could assign because many Harris students didn’t have access to internet at home.
“Many of our kids sometimes have to go to the library or to another friend’s home or something when they had to use the computer,” Velasquez said.
Velasquez said the technology is also transforming the way her teachers teach, letting them create more interactive lesson plans.
According to the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, one out of four homes in San Antonio doesn’t have access to the Internet.
Verizon public relations manager Jeanine Brew said the goal of the company’s grant is to increase access to science, education, technology and math education.
“And so, as part of our rollout across America, we were looking for schools and school districts that have a commitment to STEM and STEM education and really wanted to expose their students to more,” Brew said. “It is our hope that because of this exposure they want to continue on learning more about STEM, but also in the near future will select STEM majors in college and then also become technology leaders of tomorrow.”
In addition to donating enough iPads for 3,100 students and 190 teachers, Verizon is giving SAISD a two-year data plan, for a total donation worth $7.2 million, according to the wireless company.
Each school will also be assigned a technology coach from Verizon for the next two years.
Camille Phillips can be reached at Camille@tpr.org or on Twitter @cmpcamille