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First-year Menno superintendent implementing more technology in classes

School supply photo illustration. (Matt Gade/Republic)

MENNO — When she was interviewing for the Menno School District's top position, Charlene Crosswait was asked what she would do differently.

Crosswait, now in her first year as the district's superintendent, told the hiring committee she wanted to increase access to technology in the classroom.

A semester and a half now as superintendent, Crosswait has accomplished what she hoped, implementing 30 promethean boards, worth $120,000, into each classroom and distributed one-to-one computers to students in third through 12th grade.

Promethean boards act as interactive whiteboards, Crosswait said, in which teachers can display a lesson plan or notes, and Menno's 280 students can use the board in the same way they would a tablet or smartphone.

"It's engaging for the kids and the teachers are doing an awesome job using them," Crosswait said. "It's amazing and the district's just been amazing with it."

The new technology has been paid for with money allocated in the Menno School District's general fund, paired with revenue produced from an opt-out and taxes generated from a pumping station.

And, since implementing the boards, Crosswait said optional training has been offered every Wednesday evening for teachers. The goal of the training is to give teachers "tools so they're able to use the technology effectively in their classrooms," Crosswait said.

And, along with engagement, which promotes students' interest in the curriculum, Crosswait said the increased technology allows kids to hone their "21st century skills," such as working with technology, interacting with others and problem solving.

And the one-to-one computers aren't just laptops. The district is equipped with iPads and chromebooks, too, so students are exposed to different types of computers.

"How are students going to be successful in the real world? This is a good place for students to start," Crosswait said.