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Jefferson Students Get Mini-Laptops, Mobile Devices to Increase Potential

Some fifth grade students at Jefferson Elementary School in New Rochelle now possess mini-laptops and wireless broadband cards through a grant and help from Verizon Wireless.

At a recent ceremony at the school, the "Learning On-The-Go" project was started with a group a fifth-graders getting the devices along with a group of fourth-graders who received hand-held mobile learning devices. This is the first phase of the project which will eventually see the devices given to over 300 students at two other elementary schools, as well as tablets and netbook laptops to middle school and high school students, respectively.

New Rochelle is one of only 20 school districts from around the country selected to receive a technology grant from the Federal Communications Commission.

Alan Smith, data solutions manager for Verizon Wireless, said the technology gives students the opportunity to "learn beyond these walls."

"A large percentage of students don't have the Internet at home," he said. "This is a way for teachers to connect with students through different means to get excited about learning."

Students will be using the computers and mobile devices in a safe Web environment, Smith said.

"Through Verizon Wireless, all the content can be filtered," he said, like on school computers.

Verizon is the school district's data plan provider.

Principal Kimmerly Nieves said the project was a great experience for the community.

"This makes sure our students are 21st-century thinkers," she said. "We will be able to empower our students."

Dr. Christine Coleman, the district's director of technology, said she was inspired to apply for the FCC grant after noticing that students would often congregate outside the school on weekends and other times to use their computers.

Also the project will include "cloud" technology for participating students and teachers. Any computer or device in the initiative can be connected to the same applications and resources at any time of day. This includes the ability to store and retrieve documents from any computer.

Kiara Jackson, 10, clutched her Dell laptop and had the Verizon Wireless card on a lanyard around her neck.

The fifth grader was excited to have the new technology.

"I'm going to do all my homework on it, on my own time," she said.

Jackson said the ability to upload her homework and other documents to the cloud and retrieve them from any computer was great.

"It's much better and much more efficient," she said.
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