By John Balch • News-Leader staff
There are only five schools in Arkansas that have earned the designation of being an Apple Distinguished School (ADS) and two of them are in Murfreesboro.
The South Pike County School District held a tour and assembly last week to celebrate Murfreesboro High School’s third straight time to earn the honor and the second straight time for Murfreesboro Elementary School. The state’s other ADS campuses include Cross County Elementary Technology Academy and Cross County High School, both in Cherry Valley, and Fox Meadow School of Creative Media in Jonesboro.
According to Apple, ADS are “centers of innovation, leadership and educational experience that use technology to inspire creativity, collaboration and critical thinking. The schools showcase innovative uses of technology in learning, teaching and the school environment and have documented results of academic accomplishment.”
This is a three-year designation for both MHS and MES for 2022-2025.
MHS first received the distinction in 2017 and at the time was the only one in Arkansas with only 400 worldwide in 29 countries. After struggling for years to catch with technology, the high school suddenly found itself on the leading edge of school technology and was the first in the state to use the then-new iPad Pro in a 1:1 setting in grades 7-12. The high school then became a pilot program for other schools to make technology advances.
The selection of MHS as an ADS highlighted the school’s success as an innovative and compelling learning environment that engages students and provides tangible evidence fo academic accomplishment.
In 2019, the number of schools with the distinction increased to 470 worldwide but MHS was still the only one in the state. That year the elementary earned the honor for the first time.
“Having been here since the beginning of our iPad initiative, I am so proud to see the progress we have made and the amazing creativity of our teachers and students,” said Superintendent Tanya Wilcher.
Wilcher added that building on the district’s established vision for learning and past success, the district is committed to preparing MHS graduates for the post-pandemic world. There is a renewed energy to have a more project-based approach to instruction and learning.
MES is expanding access to coding, robotics and introducing fundamental app development using the Everyone Can Code curriculum provided by Apple.
“The future is bright for the students of the South Pike County School District,” Wilcher said.