Former North Carolina governor Bev Perdue affirmed the value of technology-driven instruction that allows classroom teachers to personalize students’ lessons – the direction LCPS has been moving for the past three years – during a visit to Lenoir County on Wednesday.
Perdue, who served from 2009-2013 as the state’s first female governor, pushed the marriage of technology and education as a public official for more than two decades and is now putting an exclamation point on that campaign as founder and chair of the non-profit Digital Learning Institute, or digiLEARN.
During a brief tour of Banks Elementary School, she saw the digital learning practices advocated by Perdue and digiLEARN at work in the classroom.
In Maria Johnson’s kindergarten class, young students used their iPads to work in small groups or individually on different lessons. The school’s principal, Kellan Bryant, showed Perdue how the iPads, videos produced on them and QR codes that take students directly to digital resources via their iPads figure into Banks’ Black History Month project. Ashley Hood, Banks’ digital learning specialist, explained the K-5 school’s approach to teaching coding techniques.
Superintendent Brent Williams, who accompanied Perdue on the tour along with Associate Superintendent Frances Herring and Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II, gave the former governor some background on the district’s digital learning initiative as they walked the halls at Banks. In its third year, LCPS provides iPads to all 8,700 students and iPads and other digital devices to all classroom teachers, as well as providing support for those teachers in developing techniques and lessons that focus on the capability of digital tools and the value of individualizing instruction.
“Lenoir County has set the standard. I’ve never seen anything like it in eastern North Carolina,” Perdue said in an interview after speaking at a fundraiser luncheon for the Lenoir County Education Foundation. “I’m really excited about what’s going on in the classroom here.”
It was the invitation to keynote the luncheon that brought Perdue to Lenoir County, which she represented for years as a member of the state House, prior to her serving in the N.C. Senate and two terms as lieutenant governor. The event raised funds to support the Foundation’s mini-grant program, which annually awards grants of $500 or less to dozens of Lenoir County teachers.
She told the group of about 90 educators, business leaders and others at the luncheon that changing what and how students learn is necessary for their survival.
“They’re facing a world that is hard for many of you to imagine,” Perdue said. “The issue is how to teach these children so they will have the skill set they need to survive in this world of adaptive change.”