La Verne Magazine
"Education in La Verne"
From Tricycles and Merry-Go-Rounds to Bits, Bytes and Modems
by David Serbin
photography by Alen Zilic
Just six years old and already immersed in the computer age, first graders
at J. Marion Roynon Elementary School spend time in the school's state-of-the-art
computer laboratory. Assistant Principal Lynn Harris (background) helped
to develop the lab, which currently boasts 40 Macintosh computers, each
attached to its own color printer. Every class at Roynon spends at least
30-45 minutes a week learning various keyboarding techniques and graphics
in the lab. Students having questions or needing assistance place a cup
atop their computer monitor. First grader Nybiah Williams proudly shows
off her work to Terry Hasch, one of the lab's supervisors.
Jasmine Magallanes enters the state-of-the-art computer lab, logs on
to one of the 40 MacIntosh LC III PCs and begins her weekly instruction.
She is learning how to use the keyboard, and when she gets stuck, she asks
her teacher for help. Sounds pretty ordinary with one exception-Jasmine
is 5 years old and in the first grade.
This computer lab is not located at a high school, at a community college,
nor at a university. It is located at Roynon Elementary School. Thanks to
a grant from the state, students at Roynon-all 826 of them-are able to spend
time using the technology that will become an integral part of their learning
Susan Brown, principal at Roynon, believes the students will greatly
benefit from learning how to use the computer at such a young age. "Computers
are being used much more often in the classroom," she says. "Each
of our rooms has a computer in addition to the ones in the lab. The information
superhighway will be used to access valuable information, no matter what
the grade level."
Jasmine's father, Victor, is delighted that his daughter has the opportunity
to take part in such a highly-technical area. "I think it is fantastic,"
he says. "Our world is evolving at a fast rate; pretty soon, every
home will have a computer."
Students spend a progressive amount of time in the computer lab. Jasmine
and her classmates come in once a week for 30 minutes. Fourth and fifth
graders spend nearly an hour a day, twice a week.
When they arrive, they meet Andrea Pluth, who is the temporary computer
lab instructor. Pluth helps the students get started and then stands back
and watches as they use headphones and special software to intuitively self-instruct
Kindergartners start out with a program called "Kidswork II,"
which teaches them how to use and control the mouse. They learn to draw
pictures and make lines. In the first grade, the students use a software
program designed to learn the keyboard and the location of letters through
picture association (e.g., Jasmine finds the balloon by pressing "B").
Pluth enjoys watching the children progress. "The MacIntosh computer
is very user-friendly," she says. "Some of them have played computer
games at home, so they have an idea of what is going on. They are not afraid
to use the keyboard and mouse."
In fact, some parents are the ones more concerned about their children
being introduced to a computer. Dr. Jay Jones, chair of academic computing
at the University of La Verne, was one of those concerned parents.
"I was hesitant about letting my child learn about computers,"
he says. "I was afraid that proper keyboarding techniques would not
be emphasized. Children, like adults, need to learn the best way to use
The second graders at Roynon begin to learn typing etiquette, and when
they graduate to the third grade, hard-core keyboarding is learned. By the
time the students have completed their schooling at Roynon, they will be
able to take these skills with them through their academic life and beyond.
Pluth is able to spend more time working one-on-one with students as
they get older and become more experienced with computers. In the early
grades, she tries to help the students, along with their teacher, learn
the basics. Later, as the children hone their skills, Pluth can give more
time to those who need more specialized help.
A computer lab such as the one Roynon provides will allow students to
go into the 21st century well-versed on the latest technology. Keyboards
will be obsolete in about five years, according to Jones, but the students
will take the change in stride. After all, they will be veterans at the
computer technology game.
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