After realizing the Harlingen school district needed a better way to connect with bilingual and early literacy students, director of technology James Pearcy launched a pilot program in 2010, installing test units of a portable speaker from Lightspeed Technologies in eight classrooms.
"To really understand their teachers, our students need to be able to hear the correct pronunciations and all the nuances of the English language," said Pearcy. "I knew there were a lot of kids who were missing out on that."
Teachers wore a small microphone around their necks, and their voices were projected throughout the room via a portable speaker. The test program was a hit for both the teachers and students.
"Teachers were telling us that classroom management was easier, and their students were more engaged," said Pearcy. "The kids on the fringe of the classrooms weren't falling off and trying to ﬁnd something else to occupy their time - they were ﬁnally able to hear and understand better."
The pilot program was so successful that the district installed the built-in speaker systems in elementary classrooms today. Still, Pearcy said he wouldn’t be satisﬁed until all 18,500 students in the district have access to the technology.
"This technology has brought our kids into an arena of conﬁdence - they know they're not going to be left behind just because they have trouble hearing or understanding their teachers," said Pearcy. "For me, that makes the investment well worth it."