Students and teachers at Bunker Hill High School are among a select group of North Carolina schools participating in a new technology program.
North Carolina is the first state in the country to enter into an agreement with Microsoft to pilot the IT Academy, which helps high schoolers learn computer skills in the classroom.
The academy is piloted this year in 29 counties in North Carolina, with 600 students and 42 teachers participating in the pilot status.
BHHS is the only school in Catawba County that is part of the Microsoft IT Academy.
"We jumped on board," said Karen Cale, Catawba County Schools career and technical education director. "This allows us to specialize. They're able to go more in depth with the curriculum."
North Carolina entered into a three-year agreement with Microsoft to implement the program for ninth through 12th grades at no cost to schools. In return, teachers provide feedback about the program and offer suggestions to make it more successful in the classroom.
"We'll spend this time evaluating it to see if we want to move forward in the future," said Curt Miller, business education consultant for career and technical education with the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Miller travels to other pilot schools in North Carolina to meet with teachers and hear their opinions about the IT Academy.
The program consists of web-based modulars, which allow students to learn Microsoft computer programs, such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint, at their own pace. Because the academy is computer-based, students complete the programs at their own pace.
"They can self pace," said Beth Parham, a teacher in BHHS' career and technical education department. "The kids that are really savvy can work ahead and challenge themselves."
BHHS students involved in the pilot program have access to Microsoft's E-Reference Library of more than 500 Microsoft Press books; the Microsoft Digital Literacy program for students new to computing skills; Microsoft's E-Learning Curriculum with more than 200 multimedia courses; and the Live@EDU program which offers free online Microsoft Office web applications. Students can access many of those programs where they have a computer.