MUNFORD -- Talladega County Schools and Google officials held a special celebration inside the Munford Middle School library Friday, honoring their partnership in Google’s Rolling Study Halls program.

Through the program, Google provides Talladega County Schools with Wi-Fi devices and onboard educators for system school buses.

“We started the program last March, but that only gave us a few months to get everything up and running,” Talladega County Schools Superintendent Dr. Suzanne Lacey said. “Today is a celebration of our successful partnership with Google.

“The Rolling Study Halls program has been wonderful for students who have long commutes. They are given the opportunity to do homework on their way to and from school. Many of these routes are in rural areas and have poor access to Wi-Fi. The program greatly helps students who may not have Internet access at home.”

The program is utilized on six different busses across the district.

The Talladega County school system is the only in the state, and one of 16 school districts in the nation, to have the Google Rolling Study Halls program.

Lt. Gov. Will Ainsworth, state Sen. Jim McClendon, Talladega County Board of Education members and other members of the community all took part in celebrating the school system’s distinct partnership with Google.

“There is a call for more public and private partnerships across the state,” McClendon said. “This is a textbook example of how such partnerships can help with technological education, which in return will allow us to compete globally on an economic level.”

During the celebration, Google officials led a coding activity with Munford students using a computer science program called Scratch.

“Our students use coding on a daily basis with a variety of subjects,” Lacey said. “It’s important because it helps teach students how to problem-solve, which they will need in the future no matter what their career choice.”

Also during the celebration, officials and guests were able to take a brief ride on one of the Rolling Study Hall buses.

While on the bus, students were able to work from their laptops on the same Scratch coding activity as students in the MMS library.

Google officials note the Rolling Study Halls Wi-Fi device is behind the bus’s mirror. Students are able to access the Internet through their school devices.

Officials added students are blocked from accessing sites such as Facebook or YouTube while on their commute. Students’ personal devices, such as cellphones, are also not able to access the Internet.

“Each bus also has a teacher on board who is there to help students with their assignments,” Lacey said. “We also provide students with a snack on the bus rides.”

Talladega County Schools bus driverKim Gaithersaid the Rolling Study Halls program has significantly improved her route with students, which takes just over an hour to complete each way.

“The first thing I noticed was how the noise level dropped dramatically,” Gaither said. “I now have basically no discipline problems. I’m able to remain completely focused while driving.

“Getting the students to and from school is my No. 1 priority, but I’m also glad we have a program that allows students in rural areas to have Internet access and have the opportunity to finish their assignments so they can go home and spend time with their family or just be a kid.”

According to a press release, Google, in partnership with CoSN (Consortium for School Networking), “is working closely with districts to start closing that homework gap for thousands of students across the country.

“Rolling Study Halls is part of ‘Grow with Google,’ a new initiative to help create economic opportunities for Americans. The program aims to give people across the United States resources to grow their skills, careers and businesses by offering free tools, training, and events.”

Added Lacey, “The system was first introduced to Google when it joined the League of Innovative Schools. Since then, our partnership has continued to grow. Last summer, members of our staff were trained at Google headquarters in California. This allowed them to have a better understanding of the programs they use daily. We want to thank everyone at Google, Sen. McClendon and Lt. Gov. Ainsworth for celebrating with us today and for their continued support of Talladega County Schools.”

To learn more about the Rolling Study Halls program, go to

 

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