by Lorie Lewis Ham
This week KRL had the pleasure of speaking with Reedley Immanuel School’s Superintendent Ryan Wood about some exciting changes taking place!
Lorie: I understand that there are a lot of new things happening at Immanuel—can you tell me about them and how they all came about and why?
Wood: We have made a conscious effort to become cutting-edge with the use of technology on campus. We believe that the use of technology will enhance the education our kids will receive. Technology will be a part of their future no matter what they pursue and we feel it is important to help prepare them. The two main advancements we have made are the use of iPads by teachers and the use of videoconferencing. iPads, with the use of Apple TV, enable our teachers to use the internet, youtube, apps, etc. to enhance their classroom instruction and curriculum without being tied to a computer or cord.
Apple TV enables the teachers to move around the room and whatever they are displaying on their iPad can be seen by the entire class through a LCD projector. Teachers are also able to put the iPad in the hands of the students to get them involved. Videoconferencing enables our students to take “field trips” around the world without leaving their classrooms. We describe it as “bringing the world to Immanuel”.
Along with those two additions, we have added 30 Mac computers to our computer lab, we are renovating our library to help it become more of a media center, and are adding 18 more Mac computers to increase it to 30. We also have a 30 Mac and 10 Mac mobile labs which are reserved by teachers for use in their classrooms, a classroom set of Kindles, and we have redone 75% of our technology infrastructure to ensure we can handle all the technology being used by our teachers and students.
How/why did the new technology changes come about and why do you feel they are important?
Wood: When we decided to move our elementary school from its Windsor location to the main campus in Reedley last February, we decided to redo all the wiring and improve our internet connection. Since that point, we have continued to redo our infrastructure on our entire campus.
In September of 2011, Matt Gehrett and Janet Adams of Fresno Pacific University came down to talk to us about the use of videoconferencing and some online learning opportunities. Out of that conversation, we also became interested in the use of iPads in the classrooms. After a few more conversations, they helped us come up with a plan to enhance the use of technology at Immanuel. With our plan designed, we were able to present [it] to some donors who were excited about the opportunities and helped us fund the iPads for all the teachers. After our kids were involved in a few videoconferencing “field trips” we became more and more excited about the possibilities. We wanted to purchase a videoconference camera so we could experience that without having to leave our campus. In December, Matt and Janet presented us a gift, which was a videoconference camera they donated from FPU. They have been extremely supportive and helpful with getting this technology “off the ground”.
Tell me more about the direction that Immanuel is headed in for the future?
Wood: Immanuel is headed toward the use of iPads by all our students. We envision a future where all of our students have their own iPad, either parent bought or rented from the school, and all they need (including their textbooks) will be stored on that iPad. We also see the use of videoconferencing increasing dramatically with the gift from FPU. We can also envision our students interacting with other classes around the world with the use of FaceTime or some other form of interfacing. We believe our students will be graduating from Immanuel with not only a solid college prepatory education, but with the technology skills and knowledge to be successful in the 21st century.
Lorie: Are there new classes being offered?
Wood: As we make advancements in technology, we also want to add classes in the areas of hands-on learning like wood shop, metal shop, drumline, etc. Also, we are continually trying to look for ways to add Advanced Placement (AP) classes. Even though we have six advanced/honor classes, we know our families want their students to be challenged even more.
Lorie: How is the economy affecting enrollment? Have you been able to do anything to combat any decrease if there has been any?
Wood: Economy has had a huge impact on not only Immanuel, but private schools all over the country. Up until this year, we had averaged a drop of 36 students a year for the last six years.
Currently, not only did we not drop for the first time in six years, but we have six more students than we finished with last year. The main way we have helped turn around our enrollment is the increase in scholarship given to our families. We have many people who believe in Immanuel and they help us fund our scholarship fund called Create an Opportunity Fund. This fund has helped to supply financial support to 83 families. We desire to help families afford to attend Immanuel. We don’t want money to be the reason someone feels they can’t attend or doesn’t even apply.
Lorie: Why do you feel people should choose Immanuel Schools for their children?
1. It is a Christ-centered education
2. 95% of our graduates attend college
3. We have a caring and qualified staff
4. It is a safe, nurturing, and caring environment
5. Small class size (Avg.=approximately 20)
6. Technology advancements
7. Quality co-curricular and extra-curricular opportunities.