New teacher laptops debut


The new laptops have made it easier for Physical Education teachers to record their attendance in the gymnasium, according to Mrs. Bonnie Zimmermann.

by Lauren Hanfield, Anna Barton, and Julia Blando

The new “EliteBook 820“ by HP has been adopted by the faculty at Glen Rock High School.

Each teacher has been supplied with an individual laptop that connects to the new docking stations found in each classroom. When connected to the docking station, the screen on the laptop is projected in front of the classroom, thus allowing for quick connections throughout classrooms.

The decision to get rid of the desktops and supply teachers with new laptops was made for various reasons.

The previous laptops were just over six years old and slow processors. The login process wasted class time that could be devoted to education.

“We’re at a day in age now where teachers don’t always have their own classrooms– they move their laptop from classroom to classroom, they have to take attendance–since they’re slow, teachers get frustrated,” Principal John Arlotta said.

The laptops were not only slow but also large and bulky. The current HP models are smaller and lighter. They also have touchscreen abilities, so they can serve as tablets if desired.

“New technology was definitely needed,” said Mr. Tom Lyon, social studies teacher.  “Generally, I was just happy having a new computer. Before this, I was just bringing my own computer to school.

“I really like them. I think they’re some of the latest technology; they’re fast, and they do everything that we need.”

The efficiency of these laptops is meant to make lesson planning much easier.

Yet Mrs. Monica Weisberg, who uses certain software for her science classes, had a contrasting opinion.

“Because the whole package isn’t working, I’m a little frustrated,” the chemistry teacher said. “I just want to get the glitches fixed so we can use it effectively.  I like them, but we’re having a lot of difficulty with them right now.”

This change is meant to set a precedent for a possible one-to-one initiative that would launch next fall, in which each student would receive his or her own laptop for the school year. The estimated price for this arrangement is approximately $400,000. However, it appears that the benefits outweigh this hefty cost.

The current BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy that enables students to connect to the school’s WiFi via cellular devices, laptops or tablets is an important step towards approaching this idea of a one-to-one initiative.

“But one of the limitations of a BYOD environment is that every kid could have a different device. So, from a teacher’s aspect, it’s hard to manage things,” Arlotta said. “We’ve made the decision to give every student the same device.

“The plan is, if we go to a one-to-one initiative, that the students will get either the exact same model or a similar model.”

The one-to-one initiative is meant to improve students’ ability to collaborate.

“It’s not a done deal yet. The Board is going to have to commit to that money, but it’s definitely part of the technology plan that they developed,” Arlotta said.

Physical Education teacher Bonnie Zimmermann believes that these new laptops could be a good fit for everyone.

“They’re cute, they’re small and they work well,” Zimmermann said.

Zimmermann said she is thankful for the tech department and the new systems.

“My office doesn’t have any WiFi and within 20 seconds they were there with the hookups to charge and everything, so they’ve been really great, the tech department.”

Zimmermann said that physical education teachers had unique difficulties with the former laptops’ size.

“In Phys-Ed. they’re small enough and the WiFi has been adjusted in the gym so now we can take attendance on our laptops right in the gym,” Zimmerman said.

“We do report grades and I keep spreadsheets for the fitness assessments we do,” she said. “We’re gonna use them with the fitness center. We have some apps and websites that we’re gonna look at so we can use them and we’re gonna hook them up to projectors and what not.”

The one-to-one initiative is not yet settled, and the Board of Education will discuss the idea at a later meeting.