As a first-grade teacher and now a technology coach at Oak Grove Elementary School, Allison Honaker recognizes how important it is that students utilize the latest technology to help them learn.
Honaker now can show staff how to use the latest Apple devices in the classroom after being selected to participate in a prestigious Apple training at its headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
Honaker is one of 127 licensed Apple certified foundation trainers nationwide who have completed the weeklong program first offered in October 2012.
Serving as the kindergarten through third-grade tech coach, Honaker works with staff to integrate technology in the classroom. Among the technology used are desktop computers, laptop carts and iPad carts. John Mehnert and Dave Huber also serve as tech coaches at the Green Oaks school.
"We demonstrate how to use the technology, then we do it with them, and by the third time they are able to do more independently," she said. "We also bring them ideas based on their curriculum."
Looking to further her training, Honaker applied to attend Apple training. Oak Grove District 68 Superintendent Lonny Lemon said more than 100,000 educators applied and Honaker was among 40 chosen to attend the training. Lemon said seeing Honaker selected to participate is a testament to her ability and a win for the district.
"Allison is now able to train our staff in unlimited foundation courses," he said. "To coordinate to bring an Apple trainer to do something like this would cost $1,900 per day. You can see the financial savings are remarkable."
Through this train-the-trainer model, Honaker said participants received instruction on how to use devices such as the iPod, iPad and MacBook Pro notebooks. She acknowledged operating systems change frequently. Because her certification lasts two years, if systems change during that time, Apple will send her updates.
"We consider ourselves power users because we use the technology and we're supposed to be the experts. There is so much more to learn that you're not sure of until you go to these classes (Apple training) and see these experts and never knew all the options," she said.
Honaker said the conversation with participants and instructors has continued beyond the Apple classroom, as they keep in touch through email and Twitter.
"It's nice we're still in contact with each other and get some ideas and some feedback," she said. "They are constantly giving you feedback and positive support, just to let you know they are still with you even though you're not in the same room anymore."
The district has already begun to implement her training. Honaker said she began a series of after-school training this month.
"Once they get this baseline for IOS devices, John (Mehnert) will do a class on digital storytelling, which not only uses the iPad but some of the apps to create digital books with different grade levels," she said.
"I'm delivering this foundational instruction and helping them get use out of the iPad and work their way around and become comfortable. He will go in depth into other topics."
Lemon said the district has learned from parent feedback that students were getting more access to technology at home than at school. The district wants to bridge that gap and will do so by building teachers' confidence to use the latest technology.
"Our goal is to build classroom teachers' ability to give them the training to work with this technology and give them another tool in their toolbox to teach our kids," Lemon said.