All third and fourth graders in Midfield to get use of free Android tablet devices

By Ariel Worthy
The Birmingham Times

Midfield Superintendent Demica Sanders (left), and Midfield Elementary School principal Marshae Pelt (right) talk to parents about the devices their children will be receiving. (Ariel Worthy)

Latisha Gholston, whose daughter is in fourth grade, knows the value and importance of technology. That’s why she was at Midfield Elementary School on Tuesday night to sign her child up for an Alcatel Android tablet with a Bluetooth keyboard, which was given to each third and fourth grade student.

“Technology is getting more and more popular day by day, so they need to know how to work things like a computer tablet,” Gholston said. “I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s positive because technology is growing.”

All third and fourth grade classes at Midfield Elementary received tablets Tuesday to take home for the school year.

In partnership with T-Mobile, the school received a grant for the devices for students to do homework and academic projects.

“Tonight is to share with parents the importance of the devices,” said Marshae Pelt, principal at Midfield Elementary School. “We want to make sure they have the proper understanding that this device is an educational tool, not a gaming system that they can play with. I want them to care about it, have a full understanding of how to use it.”

These devices will help students be “digital citizens and we’re hoping that it will also increase our student academics over here because they will not only have tablets, but internet access,” said Demica Sanders, superintendent of Midfield City Schools.

“We monitor their usage,” Sanders continued. “Students have an email attached to their device and if they are trying to get on a website that is not permitted, we get the notification and let the parents know.”

The devices follow the students throughout their school years, as long as they are in the Midfield school system. Using electronics as teaching tools are important, Sanders said.

“Our kids today. . . are able to do a lot of things that we weren’t able to do at their age,” she said. “So our hopes are that we can teach them how to be citizens, the importance of what to do, what not to do.”

Pelt agreed.

“This puts our students on an even playing field to be able to compete within the educational arena,” she said. “This will help students who do not have these devices or wi-fi or data at home. This will help parents to be able to communicate, be able to look at the apps, and play together. Parents can actually work with their students. It’s not just pencil and paper anymore. That’s important. These devices are more engaging.”

Students at Rutledge Middle School in Midfield and Midfield High School have already received Chromebooks as part of the initiative.

Gholston said some families may not be able to afford the technology, but all will be able to benefit.

“I think my daughter will do well, because I’m going to be on her about taking care of the device,” she said.