Miami Elementary Students Receive Laptops, Training

Every student at Miami’s Holmes Elementary School will receive his or her own laptop today, in an effort to level the digital playing field for more than 525 kids at the school.

“We are pleased to be working with Knight Foundation and the Miami-Dade County public schools on this new OLPC education initiative in the U.S.”

The XO laptops, specially designed for primary school children, will be provided by One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), with $245,000 in support from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Community advocates will present the laptops at 9:30 a.m. today at the Holmes Elementary in Miami’s Liberty City neighborhood.

“Access to the Internet and digital skills are vital for success in today’s connected world,” said Jorge Martinez, who leads Knight Foundation’s Universal Access Initiative. “We hope the laptops help these eager young minds at Holmes Elementary to become digital natives who are more informed and engaged in their classrooms and their community.”

Along with the XO laptops, One Laptop Per Child is providing in-house training at the school for parents, teachers and students on how to use the computers to advance students’ learning. The laptops come equipped with tools that allow students and teachers to work more closely together. In real-time, students can follow their teacher’s work on their laptop, or work collaboratively on projects. In addition, One Laptop Per Child is assisting in creating a localized curriculum that helps kids meet their academic benchmarks.

"We are pleased to be working with Knight Foundation and the Miami-Dade County public schools on this new OLPC education initiative in the U.S.," said Rodrigo Arboleda, chairman and CEO of the One Laptop Per Child Association. "We believe that partnering with foundations, the private sector and the public sector is an excellent model that can be replicated across the country."

Holmes Elementary School, which serves the majority of Liberty City residents, is at risk of closing at the end of the year if its state test scores do not improve. In an effort to boost performance, a variety of tools and resources are being used to enhance teaching and learning, including the laptops and training.

“With this project, every child will carry learning in the palm of their hands and we will be one step closer to leveling the educational playing field in Miami,” said Atunya Walker, Holmes Elementary School principal.

Holmes Elementary has been selected because it is working with Knight-funded Teach For America to change student performance. Knight provided funding to triple the amount of Teach for America teachers in Miami-Dade – bringing the number to 350 – in a group of inner city schools that includes Holmes.

See the video about this project.