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QTL for IT Educators > News > Article Summaries > Current Article

North Carolina high school QTL's IT School of the Year

May 10, 2004

A first-year Computer Engineering teacher has a real feather in her cap: her school has been selected as QTL™/ExplorNet's IT School of the Year. North Pitt High School in Bethel, NC wins the honor for 2004.

Another North Carolina school, Williamston High School in Martin County, was named runner-up for the honor.

Lisa Sloan of North Pitt High says as a first-year teacher, she hesitated to send in a nomination form but did so "mainly because I am so very proud of my students and their success."

That success is particularly impressive because eight of the 11 students who signed up for Sloan's Computer Engineering class had grade point averages below 2.0 -- in other words, less than a "C" average. But interest in technology turned that around. In December, every single student scored 85 or above on the countywide midterms.

"I realized during the first week of classes that CET was going to be the 'niche' that several of my students needed to excel," Sloan says, noting that most of those students are seniors. "They loved being able to go into classrooms and physically demonstrate their knowledge, especially since many of them were not typically successful in the classrooms."

"This is the kind of story we really love to hear," says ExplorNet CEO Dave Boliek. "When students are engaged and interested, they learn. We're just ecstatic when a teacher can take what he or she learned in one of our training sessions and put it to work so effectively in the classroom. We are truly impressed with what Lisa Sloan and her students have accomplished."

As Sloan began working through the curriculum materials, she worked to incorporate projects and group work as much as possible. "Students completed PowerPoint presentations and designed posters to be used in the classroom," she says, "but they demonstrated their understanding during hands-on performance evaluations and repair work done on various computers throughout the school."

Students added CD-ROMs, replaced floppy drives and hard drives, erased and reformatted hard drives, and performed file maintenance. They set up new computers in the media lab and connected them to the school network. They were called upon for technical support and conducted computer maintenance. They restored several donated computers and set them up in the exceptional education classroom.

"This was a significant contribution to our school," Sloan says, "because it allowed the teacher to load a special reading program for these students to use to develop their reading skills. Prior to receiving these six computers, the teacher had to sign up for the one vacant computer lab, which is shared throughout the entire school, so access is very limited. With this addition, students can practice reading skills on a daily basis at an individual level."

As teacher at the winning school, Sloan will receive a plaque and a pizza party for her class from ExplorNet, plus a webcam donated by Computer Warehouse of North Carolina, and a bundle of academic materials and online line learning licenses from Element K.

At Williamston High, Charles Thorne has been teaching Computer Engineering for three years. This year students completed several projects, some featured on the ExplorNet web site this year, including refurbishing donated computers and installing them in a community computer lab in Robersonville.

Williamston High students work
Charles Thorne and students from Williamston High work on computers in ExplorNet's Capital Center for Quality Teaching & Learning in Raleigh.

"That project consisted of planning, implementing, classroom time and out-of-classroom time," says Thorne. Using the donated computers and grant money, students upgraded 15 computers and networked them to a network printer and the Internet.

The project incorporated traditional hardware as well as wireless networking technology. Students learned about hardware testing, reloading operating systems, software and drivers. They learned to make and run cable and implemented a wireless bridge. The lab that resulted will be used for a variety of purposes to benefit the community.

Other projects at Williamston High included setting up a lab for a senior citizens' center, building and installing computers for ExplorNet's Capital Center for Quality Teaching & Learning in Raleigh.

"This is such a well-rounded program at Williamston," raves Boliek. "We stress the importance of hands-on learning, and there's probably no teacher who does that better or provides more opportunities for students than Charles Thorne. And the support he's received from school administrators and the community to help him provide those opportunities has been phenomenal. It's a win-win situation there in Martin County."


For more information, contact Robin Fred via e-mail at or call him at 888.507.3800.

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