Verizon invests $8 million into Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools - | WBTV Charlotte

Verizon invests $8 million into Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

(Source: WBTV/File) (Source: WBTV/File)

About 1,900 Charlotte-Mecklenburg School (CMS) students are getting an iPad to take home each day. Students say the hi-tech device will allow them to do better in school.

"It's going to be easier for me to turn my homework in," Whitewater Middle School 7th grader Jamaar Earl said. "Because I usually lose it." 

The iPads are equipped with hi-speed internet. Some students don't have that type of capability at their homes. This is part of Verizon Innovative Learning Initiative. It is paying for this first of its kind initiative for CMS. It's an $8 million dollar investment.

"This is really part of us giving back to the community," Verizon representative Dean Antonilli said. "And making sure doing what's important."

Students also say being able to use the iPads at home and in the classrooms will make them more eager to learn.

"A lot of people think it's boring using paper and pencil," the student said. "Everybody likes to be on their phone technology, now that technology is in front of you - so they are probably going to be more focused."

Verizon hopes the focus will lead students at the CMS schools to look into a career involving Science. Technology, Engineering, and/or Math.

"Minorities today are under-represented in this country in that space," Antonilli said. "And again I think we need to do a better job equipping them with the right tools to make sure they can compete with everybody else."

WBTV was there when about 750 students from Whitewater Middle School received their iPads. The free and reduced lunch population at the school is more than 80%. The device helps parents and relieves stress. Many parents are forced to find other places for their kids to use a computer. 

"It takes off me paying for gas going to the library," parent Latasha Earl said.

Earl now has high expectations for her son.

"I am expecting all A's," the mother said. "With the technology now." 

The students will keep the devices for two years. They will return them back to CMS. Students receiving the devices are in 6th,7th, and 8th grade. 

"We are trusting they will do the right things with the tools." Antonilli said.

Besides Whitewater Middle School, students attending Bruns Academy, Druid Hills Academy, Reid Park Academy and Westerly Hills Academy will also receive an iPad.

Verizon Innovative Learning Initiative reaches 27,000 students and 2,100 students across the country.  Verizon reports in the last two years there have been results.  Data shows 67% of teachers believe their students were more engaged while 41% of students completed their hands-on assignments using technology more frequently. 

CMS said teachers will be coached regularly to make sure the iPads are being utilized to the fullest. 

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