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The 151,000 students returning to school today in Montgomery County won't only be greeted by teachers and administrators, but also by loads of new technology.
Over the summer school officials replaced nearly 10,000 computers, set up wireless networks and installed thousands of new interactive whiteboards.
"It's important because it's an engagement tool," says Rachel Dubois, the principal of the Piney Branch Elementary School in Takoma Park. "It's a way to get kids fully engaged in the classroom, and the technology helps bring some of the lessons to life. We have Prometheum boards in every single classroom this year, we also have Netbooks and laptops throughout the school to help engage the students."
Not only was the new technology installed over the summer break, but teachers were trained on how to best use it. A number of schools were also fully modernized, include Weller Road Elementary School in Silver Spring.
"We have new classrooms, we have Prometheum boards, we have a brand new gym which is phenomenal, we have an all-purpose room which is a cafeteria now," explains Principal Michaele Simmons.
System-wide more than a dozen major construction projects were completed over the summer to accommodate growing enrollment that could reach almost 160,000 students by 2018. Montgomery County also rolled out it's new educational framework, which focuses on academic excellence, creative problem-solving and social-emotional learning.
"Our kids need to write, they need to do mathematics,but they need to learn how to work together in groups. They need to know how to think of problems creatively," says County Superintendent Joshua P. Starr, who argues that these are core competencies students need to succeed in the 21st. century.