West St. John Elementary School in Edgard recently spent seven weeks implementing new ways to use technology in the classroom.

The tools include interactive tables loaded with educational activities for kindergartners, handheld responders that second-graders can use to let the teacher assess how well they understand the lesson and digital flip charts that third-graders can use to read, analyze sentence structure and produce compositions during independent research.

A tour of the connected classroom Feb. 23 showed community members, educators and others how the St. John the Baptist Parish Public School District is using technology to teach its students.

“Technology has always been here, but we needed to find a different way to use it to get our students more engaged in some of the lessons, and we saw that engagement today,” West St. John Elementary School Principal Chantell Walker said. “Their minds are so busy, and they are distracted by so many things. If we can get them more engaged in class by using technology, they will learn even more.”

During the seven-week pilot program, teacher Wendi Tierney got training on technology integration strategies, then shared what she had learned with other teachers. AXI Education Solutions consultants were available on an as-needed basis. West St. John Civic Association member Warren Coleman remarked on how little people know about what is taking place in public schools.

“It’s incredible to live here and not realize what is taking place, what our teachers are doing, what the community is doing and what those surrounding the teachers are doing to support the teachers to enhance education and to prepare students with the necessary competencies to get a job within the parish, the tri-parishes, the state or the world,” he said.

“Before we talk football, before we even talk about all the other things we love to talk about, we need to say, ‘Do you realize what the school system is doing for our kids?’ We are proud of the students we’ve turned out throughout the years without technology. Think about with this type of technology what we can do, how we can challenge companies to come in here and say, ‘We have students who can do this job.’”

Assistant Superintendent Quentina Timoll said the district hopes to expand the pilot program next to West St. John High School.