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Galax Elementary School students were greeted this year with a renovated library and two new computer labs paid for with stimulus funds Galax schools received.
“We've been successful with adequate yearly progress, and we're just trying to go beyond that,” said GES Principal Brian Stuart. “We're just trying to become modern, even if we are in an old building. We're excited.”
Last year, students were sitting “elbow to elbow” in a room with 24 computers, said Stuart. Some classrooms were freed up this year when the school took on some improvements.
Stuart said a couple of classrooms were used for students needing additional help in reading and speech. Instead of sending students out of the classroom and into another one — where they would miss out on some lessons with their classmates — enrichment teachers will go into their homerooms to help them.
Doing this made room for two new computer labs with about 25 new desktop computers each and new laptops. Air conditioning was also incorporated to keep the equipment at the right temperature.
Students in pre-K through fourth grades get to learn about computers in the new labs. Technology classes are held in one lab with teacher Susan Wilson, and other elementary teachers have access to one lab all day.
Students have monitored access to getting online. Teachers can look at one computer and see what all the students are doing. With the new computers, students also have access to tons of reading programs, said Stuart.
“We hope to do a trial run this year by testing the fourth grade class online with one subject,” said Stuart, noting that eventually the state is going to require online testing. “Then, we're going to fully implement online testing with third and fourth grade next year.”
Stuart also showed that students returned to a like-new library, with freshly painted walls, new carpet and new book shelves. Here, students can visit the listening center, learn Spanish and log on to computers, he said.