Visiting groups arrive to examine progress and effects of FCPSOn program firsthand


John Martin, Staff Writer

Recently, many education professionals have visited during school hours in order to take a closer look at FCPSOn, the technology program providing each student with an electronic device to use for educational purposes at school and at home.

“FCPSOn is a district-wide initiative, and we’re one of the first high schools to do this with our whole pyramid,” School-Based Technology Specialist Margaret Sisler said. “In order to help other schools learn from this and make changes in the way they’re teaching, we’re inviting folks from the central office, different departments and other schools to visit.”

The program, however, encompasses more than just allocating a device to each student; it also supplies more tools and utilities to schools.

“We’re trying not to [solely] focus on the device, but really about changing what the teaching looks like to meet the needs of our kids now and building those skills for the future,” Principal Teresa Johnson said. “The design is to look at our learning model in the county and make sure we’re providing instruction that meets the needs of students now in 2017, and not the way we’ve been teaching [for] 100 years.”

Because Chantilly’s pyramid is the first phase of the program, the results and perspectives provide real-world information about immediate effects, implementation and how it might be improved in the future.

“One of the cool things about being one-to-one is that [we’re] first and get to figure things out and learn new ways to do it,” Sisler said. “When [we’re] doing that, everybody else wants to learn [about it], what’s working and what they can take back to their schools.”

Behind the scenes, the support team includes both staff specialists and student technology aides to ensure any problems are quickly resolved and all aspects of school technology run smoothly.

“We work closely with all the repairs and help students with problems,” senior and student technology aide Sofia Wainwright said. “Over the summer, we set every single computer up, all 2700, and distributed them.”

Technology aides also play a major role in showing visitors around the building to demonstrate the results while answering any questions that may arise.

“When the tours come in, we talk about how students use [the computers] and how we use them with different programs,” Wainwright said. “We also [discuss] how they can use it in their schools and how we can help them. We’re a model for other schools.”

Although the support team works rigorously each day, it’s often easy to overlook the high level of effort involved to make the program work well.

“It’s definitely a good initiative to bring to schools and benefits the student body, but the success is based on the support team that it has,” Wainwright said. “As long as other schools are willing to put in the work and work hard, then I think it’s going to be great.”

Because the FCPSOn program involves many major changes, the positive effects are already being widely noticed and appreciated within a year of its introduction.

“I don’t see any way that we would ever go back to the way before [this program]. It has been a great change for our staff and students,” Sisler said. “In the next few years, I wouldn’t be surprised to see lots and lots of schools making this change.”