CLEVELAND — A Cleveland charter school was the first in the country chosen for a major technology upgrade that’s helping Cleveland middle school students soar to new heights.
The Entrepreneurship Preparatory School campus at Breakthrough Schools was awarded a technology package upgrade from Verizon Wireless that included iPads for all students, classroom engineering capabilities and 5G internet speed for the entire campus.
The young scholars said the technology lab makeover is setting them up for success in STEM careers – an opportunity they believe some public schools cannot provide.
“We have students looking at lead poisoning, heart disease, lung disease,” Samantha Maras said.
Maras is the eighth grade science teacher at the Entrepreneurship Preparatory School and said the grant is changing the course of middle school curriculum.
“It’s so interesting to hear from parents and them about what their school was like before,” Maras said. “For a lot of them it’s a culture shock.”
Students receive hands-on training building hearts with 3-D printers and exploring the universe through virtual reality.
“I'm able to see how stars and galaxies are made and I have control over that,” Jayson Williams said.
Jeremiah Triplett has a new lease on learning thanks to the new machinery.
“I love reverse engineering because it's fun to see how things are made and then try to put them back together again,” Triplett said.
Some of the young developers recalled past experiences at Cleveland-area public schools and referenced constant discipline issues and lack of hands-on training.
“I've moved a lot before here and then we finally struck the gold mine,” Triplett said. “I mean, I'm here and I'm excelling.”
Keziah Dorroh is 13-years-old and commutes to and from school every day.
“I actually have to take two buses to get here, but it's worth it,” Dorroh said.
Eighty percent of the students who attend Breakthrough Schools live below the poverty line and are zoned for public schools with poor performance rates.
District officials told News 5 many of those students will be first-generation graduates.
“When the families haven't been to college, haven't been to any schooling beyond high school, it's a little bit hard,” Maras said.
STEM students at Breakthrough Schools are determined to reinvent their futures.
“It really sets you apart because you already have this vast knowledge and you can just jump into whatever it is you want to do,” Triplett said.