PANAMA CITY BEACH, Fla. - It was like Christmas morning at Surfside Middle School Wednesday, but it wasn't the kids unboxing the gifts.
More than 50 teachers received new Dell Chromebooks.
"We felt like if we could get them in their hands before the Thanksgiving break next week when the teachers are out, they could take the time to learn about the device and that the teachers would have some experience before we delivered them to the students," Tamara Hogue, with Bay District Schools' Technology Department, said.
It's the first phase of the district's new One-to-One Device Learning Initiative, providing every Surfside and Jinks Middle School student with a laptop to carry between home and school.
"I have not spent as much time on the Chrome Book as my students have so this is going to make me become an expert," sixth grade teacher Suzanne McDonald said.
McDonald has already seen the potential for the program, especially when students take the computer-based Florida Standards Assessment. Her sixth grade classes have been using an older version of the laptops for three years.
"Sometimes they knew the computation, but they didn't know how to show that answer technically on the question because they haven't had any practice or familiarity with it," she said.
McDonald believes this initiative will also open doors for lower-income students who can access more lessons online.
"Those kids who don't go home and are not following up at home don't make quite as much progress so hopefully for some of those kids that are hesitant to do homework on paper with pencil, maybe this will be a little more of a motivation," McDonald added.
Jinks and Surfside Middle School students should receive their own device in mid-January.
District officials are spending about half a million dollars in Half Cent Sales Tax and Digital Classroom funding to buy the devices. Every middle school students should have one in the next two to three years.