Launched in 2004, the Mebane Technology Challenge not only delivered cutting-edge technology to every classroom in Davie County Schools, but it also brought the community together to achieve a vitally important common goal – improving education for thousands of children throughout the county while at the same time ensuring the effort would be sustained through ongoing support.
In 2004, the Mebane Foundation issued a challenge: If the county could raise $1.5 million from individuals, companies and civic groups, then the Foundation would contribute $750,000 over a three-year period to add the best educational technology to classrooms in every school across the county.
By the fall of 2007, without any government/taxpayer funding, the community had raised more than $1.5 million and the Mebane Foundation had completed its match. Those funds provided SMART Boards, projectors and laptop computers for all but 80 of the school system’s 500 classrooms, plus pre-K classrooms in five of the six elementary schools.
Seeing the excitement among students and teachers as well as the enhanced educational environments created by the technology, Davie County Commissioners voted unanimously to spend $1 million to pay for the remaining SMART Boards, six new audio-visual (distant learning) classrooms, a technology rich professional-development hub for training teachers and the last of the six pre-K, technology-enhanced classrooms.
By then, technology was transforming education for students in every classroom in every school. Perhaps the most significant result of the across-the-board SMART Board infusion was the well-documented interactive learning that had taken root across Davie County – and the elimination of virtually all disciplinary problems in classrooms. The children were visually stimulated and engaged in learning as never before.
Another positive result was that teachers, many who had resisted integrating computers into their lessons, were becoming eager to learn more computer/SMART Board applications.
Finally, having technology – and enthusiasm for it – in all classrooms laid the foundation for the innovative professional-development models to come through Foundation initiatives: Mebane Masters and STEM Infusion.