Saturday, October 25, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

School starts in Camden under new state regime (and with new technology)

As Camden students go back to school today, they might see their new school superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, who started last week. But they are more likely to see more immediate changes that directly affect them- new technology and books. Gov. Christie will be at Cream School on Tuesday and will likely be discussing the new technology at that school, one of three technology pilot sites in the district.

School starts in Camden under new state regime (and with new technology)

As Camden students go back to school today, they might see their new school superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard, who started last week. But they are more likely to see more immediate changes that directly affect them.

We sat down with the state-appointed leader on Friday to discuss his plans for Camden schools. A lot of his work in the first few months will be focused on simply looking at how Camden schools currently operate and taking note of what teachers, students and families have to say about the system. (Check out today's story on Rouhanifard HERE)

There are some changes that have already been implemented by state officials for the start of this school year such as new technology, including mini i-Pads and Google Chrome books at certain schools. Each students will also get two sets of language arts and math books (one for home and one to keep in the classroom), which is a big step up from the photocopies of books the youths used to receive.

Gov. Christie will be at Riletta Cream Elementary School to chat with students, according to a press advisory. He will likely be discussing the new technology at that school, one of three technology pilot sites in the district. When I visited Cream on Friday,  the school’s technology coordinator Bobbie Harrison was happily unpacking the new 55 i-Pad minis and about another 50 Google Chromebooks. The third graders get to use the mini i-Pads for class, while the Chromebooks will be for the sixth graders.

"We're infusing technology in our academic programs," Harrison said. The students "will have them all day, can use them for brojects... each child will have a google account they can access anywhere too."

Some of the programs the students will use might include Garage Band for music class or some math apps to use in class, Harrison said. 

The plan for the new technology pilot came from state Department of Education leaders not the district, state officials said. With a $178,000 price tag, paid by the state, the Camden School District received: 55 iPad minis, 175 Chromebooks, 26 laptops, three iMacs, two PCs, as well as some accessories, green screens and a mobile smart board.

Also new this school year- the completion of the long-awaited for refurbished Camden High School football field. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held Oct. 11 during a Friday Night Lights home game. A local group which helped in the fundraising for the field improvements is hosting a clean up event Sep. 14 to promote the new field. 

About this blog
Julia Terruso started covering Camden and its residents, agencies, government and school district in September 2013. Previously, she worked at the Newark Star-Ledger covering the criminal justice system in Essex County and prior to that Union County.

Julia is a proud graduate of Syracuse University, originally from the Philadelphia area. Email tips, concerns and story ideas to jterruso@phillynews.com or reach her at 856-779-3876 or on Twitter @juliaterruso. Reach Julia at .

Julia Terruso
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