At Thornton Academy, students and faculty have been on the forefront of integrating technology into the classroom to prepare its students for a changing world.
Since Sen. Angus King proposed the Maine Learning Technology Initiative in 2000 as governor, the staff at Thornton Academy has embraced it, believing that this technology comes with many benefits.
“Technology levels the playing field for all different types of learners,” said Lauren Durkee, an English teacher at Thornton Academy.
Students use their 1:1 iPads in all of their classes, including this biology lab.
In the past, lost paper and pencil assignments were a problem for both students and teachers. Durkee said that it is not an issue anymore because the assignments “are saved somewhere and retrievable,” adding that the ability to save assignments to a cloud-based server helps students become “more accountable and honest” about their assignments.
In 2017, Apple selected Thornton Academy as an Apple Distinguished School.
Apple Distinguished Schools attain this distinction by having a certain percentage of teachers with proven fluency with Apple products. Currently, there are approximately 400 in the whole world that have won this award, rendering it a high honor.
Headmaster Rene Menard '88, Director of Instruction Amanda Doyle, and Director of Technology Ben Nasse '93 proudly display the Apple Distinguished School award.
“Thornton recognizes the importance of technology and how it has revolutionized the way we learn and teach.With students having access to technology, knowledge is not finite anymore and technology makes it possible for all of us to learn anywhere at any time," said Rene Menard '88, Thornton Academy's Headmaster.
Teachers at Thornton Academy have started using technology to pioneer the way for flipped classrooms. In her Chemistry classes, Teri Arenstam strives to do this. Arenstam said that the advantage of flipped classrooms is that the students do the toughest part of the work, the homework, in a supportive environment with help from both teachers and peers.
“A flipped classroom,” Arenstam said, “is when you flip what you normally think as class work with homework. Students watch videos and take notes for homework and in class, students work in small groups on questions pertaining to the content."
With this easily accessible technology at Thornton Academy, students are reaping the benefits of being prepared for future careers utilizing technology.
“Students need technology at Thornton Academy because it resembles how we will have to work in the workforce. Students need experience with technology because it will be in every workplace, giving students with technical experience an advantage," said Zach Ahmida, a senior at TA.
Students collaborate on a digital project in a class in the New Media Center.
Amanda Doyle, Director of Instruction at Thornton Academy has been on the forefront of integrating technology into the classroom. At Thornton Academy there are students with different backgrounds and the school provides technology in a consistent way that levels the playing field for all students. When using technology, “It’s all about building skills and becoming resourceful,because your brain can only hold so much information," she said.
Not only are students benefiting from technology, but Ben Nasse, Director of Technology recognizes that the staff also has gained skills. Using technology helps the faculty to teach students where the students feel comfortable.
“Technology has impacted all the subject areas teachers cover, whether that be in a gym class where you are tracking calorie intake, or in science class where students are using probes. Using technology helps the faculty to teach students where they feel comfortable," he said.