A small school on the southern tip of Alaska's Kenai Peninsula learned this week that it won an educational grant from Apple Inc. that will bring new technology to every student and teacher in the Southcentral community of Nanwalek.
Seventy-nine students attend Nanwalek's K-12 school, according to principal Nancy Kleine. With the grant, each student and teacher will receive an iPad. Teachers will also receive MacBook laptops. And each classroom will be equipped with an Apple TV.
"I announced it on the intercom and could hear the students screaming with delight," Kleine wrote in an email.
Nanwalek was the only school in Alaska to receive the grant, according to Apple's website. The award is part of the ConnectED initiative announced by the White House in February, which seeks to empower students and schools through upgrading Internet connections and increasing access to technology. Apple is one of a number of companies that has committed money and resources to the initiative.
At Nanwalek, the new technology will help the school develop a relevant, rigorous curriculum that allows for flexibility in student learning, according to Kleine. "It will also increase ways with which students have options to show their knowledge," she wrote.
"Having this exciting technology will attract students to school and increase attendance. This type of learning is interactive and focused," she wrote. "If we can engage kids, if we can help them want to come to school in Nanwalek, we can improve their learning, and hence their skills and ability to contribute," she added.
Overall, the community will benefit, as its "hope for a sustainable future ... resides with their abundant children, who have not had fast Internet or much technology until now," Kleine wrote.
Nanwalek is home to around 243 people. The community is about 200 miles south of Anchorage and accessible only by boat or airplane, according to Chugachmiut tribal organization.
Kenai Peninsula Borough School District superintendent Steve Atwater called Nanwalek a "low-income community" that is largely subsistence-based and not used to being in the spotlight.
"To get that kind of attention, that kind of technology ... (it's) going to be a real boon for the students and the community," Atwater said.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough School District also recently upgraded its Internet connection, "excellent timing," Kleine wrote, to support the new technology.
Apple will be working with the school in coming weeks to rollout the grant, Kleine wrote.