Atlanta Public Schools, in partnership with Verizon and The Heart of America Foundation, is making sure APS students are prepared to use the tools of the future with the opening of two more Verizon Innovative Learning Labs at Coretta Scott King Young Women’s Leadership Academy (CSK) and Price Middle School.
“We’re very excited to be here in partnership with APS. One of our corporate social responsibility initiatives is to bridge the digital divide, so we focus on digital inclusion, and this is what this is doing today,” Verizon’s director of government affairs and community engagement Michelle Arrington said. “The Verizon Innovative Learning Labs are focused on giving access to young students in regard to science, tech, education, arts and mathematics. We’re really focused on building up the next generation of STEM leaders and letting them know what’s possible, what they can do and what they can create.”
The Verizon Innovative Learning Labs are equipped with 3D printers, virtual reality headsets and augmented reality. CSK sixth grader Giselle Walker was excited to use the new technology now at her fingertips.
“My first reaction was like, ‘Wow! OMG! How does technology do this?’ and I just really think it’s very cool,” Walker said. “I’m excited about VR because putting on a pair of glasses and seeing a whole new dimension, to me, is very cool. I don’t know how to describe it. It’s a life experience just with glasses on, and you can experience so many different moments from the one you’re in now.”
There are only four Verizon Innovative Learning Labs in the state of Georgia, and all of them are in APS schools. Earlier this year, two labs debuted at Long Middle School and Herman J. Russell West End Academy.
“The access to these tools for the students is invaluable in the sense of we’re here because we are a leadership academy, and we are preparing the leaders of the future,” CSK Verizon Innovative Learning Lab coach Edjohnier Phillips said. “I’m really looking forward to watching the students allow their creativity to bloom using these tools.”
After cutting the ribbon to officially open the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab, the students were able to use their new devices and demonstrated how to use the various digital tools.
“This is a stepping stone to new exposures and experiences that they need to embrace in order to be prepared for the next level of learning in technology,” CSK principal Eulonda Washington said. “The fact that our young ladies of color are underrepresented (in the tech industry) makes it that much more valuable to us because women of color make up 2-3% of the workforce for technology.”
“Being afforded this opportunity is truly a blessing, and it is setting a precedence for letting our girls know the sky is the limit and they have access to the tools to make sure the sky is the limit,” she added. “The students are truly grateful, and they embrace active learning.”