TUPELO • The Tupelo Public School District purchased nearly 400 Newline Interactive panels this year for use in classrooms across the district.
Instructional technology coordinator Misty McRae oversaw the replacement of outdated SMART and Promethean boards in late August.
There are currently 398 Newline panels in use across the district by core K-12 teachers. They cost the district $906,000 total – or around $2,200 each.
McRae said the TPSD Board of Trustees has already approved funds for 86 additional panels that will be purchased soon, bringing the total number to 484.
Those boards will go to specials teachers, activities teachers, coaches, etc. Also, the Early Childhood Education Center was not included in the initial rollout, but will receive Newline panels this time around.
The 75-inch panels can be used to display slideshows, websites or videos and allow instructors to write over images on the screen. They’re completely non-proprietary, meaning the displays are compatible with a wide variety of popular software.
They have new software updates installed automatically “over the air” to keep them constantly up-to-date and are expected to last eight to 10 years.
McRae said the panels have “20 points of touch,” allowing multiple students to use or write on the boards at once.
Daytra Riley, kindergarten teacher and 2019 Teacher of the Year at Carver Elementary School, has used a Newline panel in her class for about two months. She said the new panel is more interactive than the Promethean board that was previously in her classroom.
Her class recently learned about American painter Wayne Thiebaud and viewed a few of his art prints on the panel.
“We actually, with the art print, went through math word problems,” Riley said. “He does a lot of art with foods and counting, things that you can count. So we made math problems from looking at his art prints on the board and were able to go up and write on the pictures and solve them.”
Dennis Word, a sixth-grade math teacher at Milam Elementary School, has had one of the new panels in his classroom for about three months. He called it “the ultimate time saver” and said he “can’t thank the district enough.”
With the Newline panel, he has the ability to easily save notes that he wrote down for his first class of the day and pull them up again for use in other classes.
Students can also go up to the panel and have it replay his explanations of lessons before approaching Word with questions, giving him more one-on-one time with students who need it most.
He compared issues that teachers face to road construction and said sometimes those issues receive temporary fixes, like filling a pothole.
“Some things we’ve done has been pothole fixing,” Word said. “This was paving the street, (the district) paved the street with this one.”