Mineola becomes New York’s 1st district to have all schools recognized by Apple

The Mineola Union Free School District is the first district in New York to have all schools earn the Apple Distinguished School title. From left, Mineola Board of Education President Christine Napolitano, Principals SueCaryl Fleischmann, Margarita Maravel, Janet Gonzalez, Andrew Casale and Whittney Smith, and Superintendent of Schools Michael P. Nagler, accept recognition from Apple at the Dec. 14 board of education meeting. (Photo courtesy of the Mineola Union Free School District)

All five schools in the Mineola Union Free School District have been named Apple Distinguished Schools.

“From a local, national or worldwide perspective this is a huge accomplishment,” an Apple representative said at last Thursday’s Mineola Board of Education meeting. 

Mineola is the first district in New York to have all schools earn the title. They are also the only five schools on Long Island with the distinction – and make up more than half of the eight schools in the state that earned the title.

There only 400 schools across 29 countries with this recognition, according to the Apple representative.

Mineola High School, Meadow Drive School and Hampton Street School were recognized this year, joining Jackson Avenue School and Mineola Middle School which renewed their recognitions.

Apple Distinguished Schools have faculty and leaders that “have a clear vision for how their technology rich environments support learning goals,” the Apple representative said. 

During the meeting, Apple representatives honored the principals of the respective schools.

“Those folks in essence take the vision that’s set forth by Dr. Nagler and execute on it and deliver it,” the Apple representative said, referring to school Superintendent Michael Nagler.

He thanked Nagler for his “relentless pursuit of innovation and student centric approach.”

But Nagler said that it’s easy to have an idea – it’s harder to make it happen.

“I give full credit to all five of these people in front of me of leading their buildings of equally wonderful staff to change the way we teach and learn for kids in this century,” Nagler said. 

The district’s 1:1 iPad initiative started as a pilot program for fifth-graders at Jackson Avenue School in 2010. The program now encompases all students K-12.

There are thousands of devices in students’ hands across the world, Nagler said, but simply handing kids devices is not teaching.

It takes dedicated educators to use those devices effectively, according to Nagler.

The iPad is unique to other tablets as a creation tool, Nagler said. While the district uses Chromebooks and other devices, too, Nagler said iPads are especially apt to invite children to create.

But event that is irrelevant if lessons are not designed to inspire kids to do so, Nagler said.

“How are you using that device to change the way kids think about the world around them and produce content that you can’t without the device,” Nagler said. 

Trustee Cheryl Lampasona said that she’s noticed the impact the iPads have had on her own children, 7 and 9, as students.

Before they started school, her kids just used iPad for games, Lampasona said.

Now, her kids can navigate around emails, Keynote and a slew of other apps, she said.

Without the support of the district and Apple, Lampasona said, her kids would not have had that opportunity.

“It would’ve ended at games,” Lampasona said.

 

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Rebecca Klar

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