(T-G Photo by Tracy Simmons)
Michael Wright, principal at Community Middle School, used technology funds to bring a set of 10 Nook tablets to his school, inviting teachers to unwrap the devices at an after-school reception this week.
"Santa Claus was very good to several of our students," said Wright. "They were bringing in Kindles, and [the students] wanted to know if they could bring in their [devices] ... so I had to make a decision."
"My decision was yes, because this is the way things are going," Wright said.
Although Wright's birthday doesn't arrive until the summer, his father had treated him to a very early present, a Kindle e-reader by Amazon. "I fell in love with it."
"I decided [the school] had the money, and we should make the investment."
Of the faculty, eight were surprised this week with Nook readers, as were two students selected to test-market the devices. Already downloaded were the novels the teachers had planned to read after the TCAP testing next week.
E-reader technology may expand next year. "We have a grant for ten more that is going to be available to students to check out in the library next year," said Wright.
Of the big-box bookstores which offer e-reader technology, chain Barnes and Noble is known for the Nook product, while Amazon is known for the Kindle line of products.
Wright cites the relationship and availability of the Nook customer service in his purchase choices, "We have a great relationship with the representative locally," said Wright of the B&N product. "All I have to do is pick up the phone and say I need Anne of Green Gables, and it is downloaded to our devices.
Seeing teachers using the devices is an important tool to learning, according to Wright.
"I wanted the kids to see the teachers using an electronic device," he said.
The purchase came as a surprise to the teachers and students who were invited to an after-school ceremony. "We wanted to do something for the teachers," said Wright.
"And who better to check out an electronic device than a 12-13 year old?" said Joy Caskey, assistant principal. "I mean that in all seriousness," she said of the ability of young people to grasp technology.
Caskey noted that in a recent trip to the school library she noticed several students reading ... reading books on their smartphones. "I'm so excited from what I've seen," she said.
"They weren't just mollyfoxing around, they were reading on their smartphones. It's just exciting to see."
Many colleges have already abandoned the printed textbook model in deference to the e-reader technology.
"E-readers are in their infancy on the K-12 level," said Wright.
A popular conversation in secondary schooling these days regards the weight of backpacks students must carry. Of consideration is also the administrative effort required to distribute and collect textbooks, as well as the storage space required.
The process of reading and comprehension is a bit of a paradigm shift -- even for young parents of the current school-age generation.
"I don't think books will ever go out of fashion," said Caskey.