Technology department makes major changes


Adyn Smith

SOLITARY CONFINEMENT. In a policy change, students have to lock up their cell phones during the school day. Last school year, students were allowed to carry their phones during the day and use them during lunch.

Adyn Smith, Staff

Kingsport City Schools has experienced a lot of technology changes this year. Some of these changes have hit Sevier Middle, too.

Laura Valentine is the technology support specialist for Sevier Middle. She has to directly deal with student and teacher devices.

“Every student has a newer Acer Chromebook,” Valentine said. “The newer Acers are much nicer than the Lenovos we had last year that now reside in the classrooms as loaners. The Acers are far more dependable and have much fewer issues, as well as a tougher outside and keyboard to help them last longer and not get damaged as easily.”

The 1:1 program, which is a program that allows students to use a KCS device, saw some changes this year. High school seniors graduated and turned their chromebooks in. Also, 4th graders are no longer allowed to have computers due to them breaking their devices in the past

“Together, all the 4th grade laptops and senior laptops were brought to Robinson and Sevier to replace all of the older Lenovo laptops that 7th and 8th graders previously had,” Valentine said. “This allowed everyone to have a computer that was not only more reliable and tougher, but a whole year newer.”

One big change is that Valentine comes to classrooms to fix student devices instead of students heading to the technology room to get device help.

“Before the classroom loaners, a student would have to come down, sometimes wait in line, or perhaps I would be out helping someone and they might not get help at all,” Valentine said. “This would mean that they missed class time and ultimately everyone in the class would miss out on class time when the teacher would have to catch up the student who was down in technology.”

Most teachers support this change.

“It’s a great idea,” Brian Winstead, a 6th grade Math teacher, said. “It keeps students from going down to the office for minor problems and roaming around.”

Tony Weaver, a 6th grade Social Studies teacher, agrees.

“I love this,” he said. “It means less time away from instruction.”

Student generally agreed that this change was a positive one.

“It’s good because they don’t have time out of class,” Colt Lark, a 6th-grade student, said.

Gabriel Garcia, 8th-grade student, agreed.

“It doesn’t seem like a problem,” he said. “Everything is great”.

Another change this school year is that students have to keep their phones in their lockers. In the past, students could carry their phones in their pockets and use them during lunch. This actually caused a bit of controversy on campus.

Amanda Greer, a 7th grade Language Arts teacher, belies keeping phones in lockers is a good idea.

“Students come to school to learn, and cell phones are just a distraction that gets in the way of that,” she said.

Annette True, an 8th grade Science teacher, agreed.

“Cell phones can be a very big distraction in class for students when they have them, so I’m fine with them in their lockers,” True said.

Despite her love of technology, Valentine, too, feels this change is positive.

“If you guys are anything like me, I know it feels really strange to not have your phone on you,” she said. “There is a time and place, and whether you realize it or not, it can take your mind away from what is happening here and now. When I worked at hospitals and Eastman [Chemical Company], I worked for 6 years where I had to leave my phone in my locker just like you guys.”

Even though many students have been unhappy about keeping their phones in their lockers, some students understand the reasons for this change.

“It’s good because people are all into tech and people would get distracted,” Hayden Tarbuk, a 6th grade student, said.

Victoria Browder, a 7th grade student, also undestands this change.

“I’m okay with that,” she said. “I understand where they’re coming from. Having students that play on their phone during class [is a problem].”

If a student’s computer can’t be repaired quickly, students can receive a loaner computer. These loaners used to be distributed through the tech office. This year, each teacher at Sevier has five loaner computers that stay in their classroom.

“With all the 7th and 8th graders getting newer devices, we were able to put the old Lenovos to use in the classroom as loaners at Sevier and Robinson,” Valentine said. “The purpose of having the devices in the classroom is so if you left yours at home or had to turn it in for repair that you would not miss out on your classwork.”

Most students generally like this change in the district.

“I’m okay with it,” Alice Addair, an 8th-grade student, said. “If you have to do something and you don’t have your computer, it makes doing work faster.”

Winstead also likes this change.

“If a student doesn’t charge or have their computer, they can borrow one from the room,” he said. “It saves instructional time and keeps students from roaming the halls.”

Are there any other technology changes that would be useful in Sevier?

“I would like to see Apple TVs, VR Goggles and new whiteboards used in classes,” Weaver said.

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