Tucked into a very old and very modest building in Brighton is Boston’s most state of the art high school. In fact, it has become a model the world over. There are laptop computers for every student. PowerPoint presentations and website construction are as common as term papers and homework. And it’s all found in a public high school.
First period at TechBoston Academy, students head not for their lockers, but for their laptops. At TechBoston, there are laptops for all. Here, students are wired by wireless. The days of projects done with poster board and magic marker are numbered, replaced by PowerPoint and Microsoft Excel. Even the chalkboard has gone the way of the Commodore, replaced by interactive Smartboards.
Mary Skipper is the headmaster of TechBoston. “This generation has grown up in a world of videos and music and computers,” she says. “To go back and revert to a chalkboard doesn’t work for these kids.” But the technology is working for the 80-some students selected in a random lottery to be TechBoston’s inaugural class last fall. “It’s the best part, just coming here,” says 16-year-old student Isaiah Brown.
TechBoston is a small pilot school with a longer school day that runs from 8:30 to 4:30. It also has an extended school year that runs through the summer, and class sizes are small. “You know all [the teachers] care,” says Brown. What’s more, TechBoston is entirely interactive, with homework emailed back and forth and teachers monitoring what students are doing on their laptops from their own central computer. As for the days of pen, paper and bluebooks, that’s the way it was.