Delaware News

Hayes embraces educational side of cellphones


Instead of punishing students for using their cellphones at school, Hayes High School administrators are inviting students to bring in all of their technology.

With the help of some grant money through the Community Foundation of Delaware County, Hayes will start a Genius Bar Team, also known as a tech squad.

Principal Brad Faust said the vision for the team is to train students to share their skills and knowledge of technology and social media with other students, staffers and members of the community.

"Students that are tech-savvy and good at teaching others will be able to work out of our school's media library to help teachers and other students maneuver their smartphone, tablet, laptop or apps," he said.

A few years ago, Faust said, the school began to shy away from banning students from bringing their phones to school.

"This is where our culture is moving and we are embracing it," he said. "We are using more and more technology in the classrooms, including our smartphones.

"We are not trying to stop students from using them. We are simply teaching them how to use them for educational purposes."

Students who are interested in being a part of the team will have to fill out an application. Those who are selected will go through training on technology and how to communicate the use of technology to others.

Hayes students will be able get help from team members in the library during certain periods; teachers also can get assistance or students can troubleshoot technology in the classroom.

Faust said the school will encourage students and staff to bring their electronic devices to school and learn how to use them.

"Some teachers are more comfortable than others and they have varying degrees of what technology they can use," he said. "We are hoping to expand our teachers' comfort levels."

Some teachers already have begun to use different apps in the classrooms to help students. For example, one science teacher recommended an app to help students learn the periodic table.

Eventually, Faust wants students to take their technology skills out into the community as well.

"We want students to help people outside of the school who aren't comfortable with technology, such as helping a senior citizen connect with Facebook," he said.

He said district leaders are not naive to the fact that the more technology there is, the more issues may arise that will have to be addressed.

"We are going in with our eyes wide open," Faust said. "Students may use sites that are inappropriate for school use and we will use that opportunity as a teaching lesson.

"There is a personal side to technology and a work side to technology, and we will help our students draw that line."

Faust said he thinks the effort will train students to be leaders in their schools and communities in helping people learn how to use technology.

"Some of us aren't so comfortable with technology and we want to create an atmosphere where we can explore it together," he said.