Technology Success Story

We are so proud!

Jonas Salk High-Tech Academy in the San Juan School District (Sacramento, California) is featured in the Sacramento Bee as a technology success story. Jonas Salk is a double-duty Generation YES school, using both the GenYES and TechYES programs. We’ve watched the amazing work their GenYES students have been doing to support teacher use of technology and how their TechYES students have stepped up to mentoring their peers in tech literacy to receive TechYES certifications.

The story, Technology reboots student interest: Test scores show a 33-point jump for Jonas Salk chronicles the turnaround of Jonas Salk from a campus struggling with high teacher turnover and low student achievement, to one where both students and teachers are eager to show up every day. For them, technology was the key. And guess what, test scores improved as a result.

She doesn’t read aloud in class, and she doesn’t read at home. Yet here she sits, working through her lines in a newscast at Jonas Salk High-Tech Academy.

Replaying footage of the March installment of “JSTV” — once broadcast to 600 students — is bittersweet for technology teacher Jamal Hicks. It’s painful for an educator to watch the girl, in seventh grade then, fumble her way through the cue cards, knowing that her reading ability was somewhere around the third-grade level.

But she has returned to his media class for another year. Something about the camera makes her want to read. No matter how hard it might be.

“It is empowering,” Hicks says of the technology being used in his classroom. “I look at this (newscast), and I tell her, ‘You’re my hero.’ “

But it’s not just about technology. A big part of the philosophy in the renewal of Jonas Salk was to trust students and give them responsibility for their own learning and the improvement of education for all. Incorporating GenYES into that vision means that Salk GenYES students are responsible for working with teachers so that technology benefits every classroom, regardless of the teacher’s level of comfort with technology. Trusting students to solve authentic problems and participate in the learning community means that teachers have more help to integrate technology in meaningful ways, and in turn, all students are empowered and engaged in learning.

“We believed in (the students), and they started to believe in themselves,” says Principal Jamey Schrey.

Jamal Hicks is the TechYES and GenYES coordinator at Jonas Salk. The No Child Left Behind Enhancing Education Through Technology (EETT) grant funded the GenYES program for Salk. By using GenYES, a structured model of student support for teachers using technology, Salk can report solid data back to the state to show success.

Jamal says, “GenYES has been vital to the success at Jonas Salk. Empowering the students through technology has really worked by giving the students an important reason to learn technology and to stick with it. Many of them are used to avoiding work when they find it difficult. But because they are responsible for teaching teachers about technology, they don’t want to give up. It instills high expectations and gives them satisfaction when they finish. This carries into their approach to other classes and their schoolwork.”

Congratulations to Jamal, the students and staff at Jonas Salk for all your hard work getting some well-deserved attention and respect!

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