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Sprint provides home Internet access to students

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Members of the Nash-Rocky Mount Technology Department activate Internet hot spot devices for eligible students at Nash Central High School.

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By AMELIA HARPER
Staff Writer

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools has been awarded 680 personal Internet hotspots to help bridge the digital divide for low-income high school students.

The devices come to the school district as part of the Sprint 1Million Project, a five-year program that will provide home Internet access to one million low-income high school students who currently do not have sufficient Internet access at home. The goal of the corporate initiative is to help eliminate the homework gap caused by lack of these resources. During the first year of the program, Sprint will provide Internet access to 180,000 high school students across 1,300 high schools representing 188 districts in 32 states, according to a press release from Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools.

The devices were awarded to the school district as the result of a grant submitted by Jane Finch, chief technology officer for the school district. Qualifying students in four district high schools will receive devices once the roll-out is complete by the end of this month. Nash-Rocky Mount Early College High School was awarded 60 devices, Nash Central High School and Northern Nash High School each received 180 devices and Rocky Mount High School was awarded 218 devices.

“Southern Nash High School did not get the grant,” Finch told the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education last week. “I applied for every single middle school and every single high school. Southern Nash was not awarded the grant because of the formula they used based on those receiving free and reduced lunches. I did not pick the schools. Sprint picked the schools and the number of devices,” Finch said.

The school district began roll-out of the personal Internet devices on Aug. 25 at Nash Central High School. Eligible Northern Nash High School students received their devices on Thursday and students at Rocky Mount High School and the early college high school will receive their devices at a later date. All devices must be activated by Sept. 30.

“We sit down and talk to parents about Internet safety as we activate the devices,” Finch told the school board. “They have have been very receptive and very, very grateful.”

Superintendent Dr. Shelton Jefferies expressed his excitement over students benefiting from Sprint’s 1Million Project.

“Making sure students have the tools and resources they need to be successful in this digital age is critical. Being able to provide students with home Internet access who otherwise would not have that resource is a great way to increase the digital skills of these students while also closing the homework gap. We are extremely thankful to Sprint for choosing Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools to be part of this impactful, community-changing project,” Jefferies said in the press release.

Finch also expressed excitement over the school district’s inclusion in the project.

“Since I have been chief technology officer, it has been a dream of mine to help provide home Internet access for our students who otherwise would not have such a resource in their homes. I am excited that Sprint can help us make this dream a reality that will positively impact our students and district academics as a whole,” she said.

To stay eligible as a district for the remaining four years of the program, the school district must meet certain program requirements, including distributing an equally weighted number of devices in years two through five and by serving locally and nationally as a program champion. The four schools currently included will continue to be part of the Sprint 1Million Project for an additional four years, provided each school continues to meet program requirements and annual milestones include attending webinar trainings, administering and completing surveys about the program and providing examples to Sprint to show how the devices are being used by students, the press release said.

Nash-Rocky Mount Public Schools plans to honor Sprint and the district’s technology department for the 1Million Project and device roll-out effort at the Oct. 2 school board meeting.

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