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Highlands Ranch's Redstone Elementary recently added another honor to its growing list of accolades when the Apple computer company named it an Apple Distinguished School.
The program recognizes schools for innovation, leadership and educational excellence. Redstone was recognized for its accomplishments during the Jan. 20 Douglas County school board meeting.
The honor recognizes Redstone's iPad program. In 2012, the school achieved its years-long goal of putting an iPad in each student's hands. Since then, student enthusiasm for learning has leapt.
“We know students are way more engaged when they have technology in their hands,” principal Laura Wilson said. “We can't keep teaching kids the way we've always taught kids. A lot of research shows our kids are bored. We've got to start moving and growing with the kinds of students we're getting.”
Wilson most recently witnessed the impact in a second-grade classroom, where some students already are learning multiplication tables.
“Kids can move at their own pace rather than waiting for everybody to catch up by just embedding some apps that will move them further along,” she said. “We are focused on letting our kids drive the bus.”
Redstone is the only DCSD school with a one-to-one iPad ratio, Wilson said. But the staff is doing its part to help other schools follow their lead.
“It's going way beyond the boundaries of our four walls,” she said. “We honestly have set the stage for Douglas County on how to program iPads, how to manage them, the safety features — all the components it really takes to embed iPads into an educational setting. We do tours all year long for schools all over the state of Colorado.”
Redstone plans this year to invite educators from across the country to visit and learn more about its iPad initiative.
Wilson and her staff also wrote a book outlining the process that Apple will publish.
“We could have sold it or put it out there for free, and we decided to put it out for free for educational institutions,” she said. “It will be on (Apple's) platform for any school to use.”
Wilson was principal at Redstone Elementary the day it opened in 2006. She attributes its awards and recognition to a high-quality teaching staff, shared school vision and enthusiastic students.
Among the school's recent honors:
It is among just four DSCD schools that received both the Governor's Distinguished Achievement and John Irwin awards in 2014.
It earned an A-plus rating on Colorado School Grades's most recent rankings. Its score placed it 14th among 1,101 Colorado elementary schools. Only two other Douglas County schools — Parker Core Knowledge charter in first place and Platte River Academy charter, tying Redstone for 14th place — also earned an A-plus rating from the coalition.
That placement is a long way from the 115th place Redstone occupied four years ago.
Wilson, named a 2012 National Distinguished Principal by the National Association of Elementary School Principals, reflected on all that as she drove home from the Jan. 20 board meeting.
“I was thinking, `Look where we've come,'” she said. “We definitely are a school that moves, grows and learns. But it's not about trying to be the best; it's about doing what's best for kids.”
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