In November 2015 Amazing Grace and Renton Prep were selected as Microsoft Showcase Schools. That may not sound impressive to many people, but it has been a huge thing for our school. Let’s briefly explain what it is that makes a Microsoft Showcase School. When you understand that, you will share in our pride and excitement.
It’s not just that we use computers, software, and devices in school. That is no longer a big deal. We know teachers that were using the Apple IIe to teach math thirty years ago. Since then virtually everyone, including kids, have their own computers and smartphones. That may not be true in some countries, but God has richly blessed America in every way.
Utilizing a global community that is “engaged in digital transformation to improve teaching and learning” is the mantra that we have embraced. Our creed is found in the Holy Scriptures and in faith in Christ, but the spirit and mind work together. The typical child today is likely almost as tech-savvy as their parents and often well beyond them. Sadly, many children only use this knowledge on games and social media. Our schools have made the committed effort to tap into “a professional community that amplifies the use of technology to drive school-wide transformation and efficiencies.”
To break it down, our school has integrated the best of Microsoft applications such as Office 365 (cloud version of Word, Excel, etc.), OneNote (free-form information gathering = circa past called notes), and other advanced technologies for the students, teachers, and classrooms. As the older folks used to say, ‘they better learn computers to get a job in the future.’ That has proven to be true, but better yet our graduates are creating their own jobs and businesses and often are not as concerned about ‘finding a job’ as they are in ‘making a difference.’
It is this focus on science, technology, engineering, and math that has propelled us forward. We are in a place where most of our students are in college by the time they are seventeen. Government dignitaries and educational leaders from Europe, Asia, and South America have visited our schools, and we have been selected as one of the top three Middle School STEM programs in the USA, as well as being recognized as one of the top private schools by the Learning Council.
The best aspect of technology is how it can be applied to educate young people. At Amazing Grace and Renton Prep we have keyed into this with great success. Yet we appreciate that the young people we are enabling with a blend of technology, proven traditional teaching skills, and by Christian example will exceed us. Ten years from now they will show us things that are considered impossible today! The future looks bright for our students and Renton Prep as a Microsoft Showcase School.