Paloma Valley High School has a new principal and a new program aimed at advancing technological integration.
"Technology is creeping into every occupation," said Paloma Valley High School Principal Don Williamson, who replaced Brian Morris this month. "I'm going to be pushing technology because I want this school to continue being at the top in education."
Williamson, former assistant principal at Heritage High School, said his goal as Paloma Valley's new principal is to do everything possible to have students learn the skills necessary to utilize technology in any aspect of life.
Through hands-on learning and getting involved with staff and students, Williamson hopes to uphold the school's already impressive scholastic standing and help further Paloma Valley's achievements. This year, Williamson and all Perris Unified High School District schools are implementing a new Scholar+ program, which gives students the opportunity to use Chromebooks and provide teachers with iPads.
The new Chromebook, a small light-weight laptop, replaces student textbooks and will give students and teachers the opportunity to interact outside of the classroom and process assignments electronically. It offers more opportunities to students and helps prepare them for the growing presence of technology in everyday life.
This week, administrators at Paloma Valley and Heritage High handed out a total of 5,000 Chromebooks to students. Each student is issued a Chromebook and is responsible for any damage done to it. The total cost to replace a student's Chromebook will be about $325, Williamson said -- compared to the previous cost of about $400 for textbooks per student.
Williamson said he is excited Paloma Valley is one of the first schools in the district to pioneer the program.
"The whole idea is to get the entire district on the road to higher technology," said Williamson. "We're pretty much pioneering how to do it."
Williamson said that Chromebooks were chosen because they are more compatible with the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium tests, which will be implemented throughout the state next year. SBAC is a state-led consortium for next-generation assessments that accurately measures student progress toward college and career readiness.
With the Chromebooks, students will be able to prepare for the SBAC testing system and teachers will be more able to teach students to use higher level thinking.
"We want to teach the kids critical thinking skills," said Williamson.
SBAC helps students develop level three thinking, said Williamson. For example, as opposed to being asked who was the 16 U.S. president, students will be asked to take the Gettysburg Address and Civil Rights Bill and show how they apply to modern day society.
Overall, students, staff and parents are supportive of the technological push. Students and staff have had positive reactions to the new system, said Williamson.
As well as the push toward technology, Williamson wants to strive for an involved administration. Williamson is trying to get to know his student body, parents and staff.
To tie in with his push for technology and to get to his those at his new school better, Williamson said he is going to start a principal's Facebook and Twitter page. He also plans on visiting teachers' classrooms to let teachers know he has an interest in what goes on in the classroom.
"It's important to the teachers to know that administration is interested in what is going on in the classroom," said Williamson.
Williamson has high expectations for the new school year at Paloma Valley, but believes he has the staff, students and resources necessary to meet his goals as new principal.