James Pate

James Pate

Media Coordinator/Teacher, Bee Log Elementary School, Burnsville, NC

When the 63 students in your rural school are three hours away from the closest large city and have never been to a beach, there’s only one way to let them get a feel for those places. At least, that’s what James Pate believes. “Technology lets me create experiences that these students would probably not otherwise have,” he says. “It levels the field for them.”

Pate wants his students to leave Bee Log Elementary School with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to use any type of technology they come in contact with effectively. “When children see items as tools, it’s not scary to try to use them. That kind of comfort will transfer to whatever jobs will be available when they’re older.”

Pate gets his teachers on board in a similar way. “Our teachers are learning that technology items are tools that every child should be able to use. It’s no longer innovative; it’s just part of our lives.”

In the last six years, Pate helped transform his school into a technology showplace. He dusted off the laptop lab, removed the plastic covering from the interactive whiteboards, and pushed the LCD projector carts away from the corners of the classrooms. As he began to use these tools in his media classes, his colleagues took note of his projects and started asking for help. Thanks to a supportive principal and Title I funds, Pate hired substitutes to allow teachers to attend several half-day training sessions. “What started as a onetime training turned into quarterly, school-wide collaboration days,” he says.

Teachers said they wanted the equipment to be more accessible, so he mounted all the projectors and bought new desktops, Flip video cameras, digital cameras, and document cameras. Still, the transformation wasn’t complete. “Our teachers were getting very good at using the items for teaching, but the children weren’t learning to use the items to become productive students.” Pate began collaborating with teachers on lessons that would allow the students to use the technology to create their own learning. Now, students use the devices to gather data, document their learning, and express themselves in new ways.

Last year, Pate and a teacher wrote a grant to purchase five iPods and then convinced the principal to buy another 10 iPods plus two iPads for teachers. “Students already know how to use an iPod to play games or listen to music, but we need our students to use them to become productive, 21st-century learners and leaders.” Pate did additional work with teachers during the summer and now they are using apps such as decibel readers, QR code readers, voice recorders, and GPS locators to enhance student and parent involvement.

“I’ve helped bring emerging technologies to the smallest and most rural K-5 school in North Carolina,” says Pate. “Winning this award helps me to know I’m headed in the right place with these children. It means that my school and community are doing something positive. We are preparing our kids to build a future.”

What He Uses

• Animoto
• Audacity
• Case 21
• Dell desktops
• Destiny Library Manager
• Discovery Streaming
• Document cameras
• Flip videocameras
• Hitachi interactive whiteboards
• iPads
• iPods
• Glogster
• Google Docs
• GPS units
• KidPix
• Kodak EasyShare digital cameras
• LC D Projectors
• Microsoft Office
• MovieMaker
• NC Wise Owl
• Prezi
• QR Codes
• SMARTBoards
• SMART Table interactive learning center
• Vernier science probes
• YouTube