Closing the “Great Digital Divide” for At-Risk Students



Strand #1

Academic Achievement & School Leadership

Strand #2

Family & Community


Head: We are addressing the “head” issue by providing digital access for all students. This access to internet and a device will give children the ability to be constantly connected and allows them to learn at the same pace as their peers. They will have the same academic access as their peers during snow days and even in the summer time. Our school system uses an online learning management system for teachers to post assignments and collaborate with students making sure our at-risk students have access to these tools is imperative to their education.

Home: Project Connect has allowed our community to stay connected to the school during snow days , with homework and also during the summer when learning lag can occur. We have connected with parents in the homes to make sure all students have access to internet even if they can’t afford it. We have also offered up parent trainings on devices during school hours with our parent resource room.

Brief Program Description

Do you want to learn how to close the Great Digital Divide for at-risk students at your school? Come join Chestatee Elementary School (2015 Family Friendly Partnership Award Winners)as we explore ways to give all children a chance to stay connected digitally and academically in the 21st Century School.


Chestatee Elementary School will address the challenges in providing equitable services in a constantly changing digital world. As we adopted the mandate from Forsyth County to become a BYOT district and use online learning days to make up for snow days, we were faced with the problem of how this works for students in poverty at a Title 1 school. We will share the programs and methods used by our teachers and students to address inequity which could be used in any Title 1 school. “Project Connect” began three years ago giving access to students who did not have technology and internet in their homes. We will show how Project Connect has grown from 9 Samsung Tablets to 100 Chromebooks and 40 internet hot spots!

Authentic examples of how you can use partnerships in your school’s community in order to be able to give your students access to the technology/internet will be shared. The success we have had with students’ motivation, attendance, and grades that have all changed in an upward trend will show why Project Connect is more than just giving students a piece of technology. While sharing about Project Connect, we will also tell how we have started Wifi Wednesdays, a free school event designed to educate and create access for families. This model educates and empowers families to connect to Forsyth County’s new Learning Management System.

We will provide examples of take home learning opportunities that any school system could use which promote student achievement. As we move forward with providing access to every student who is without technology, we piloted a summer school group of 29 students who used their chromebooks for online learning over the summer. We will show how using our LMS has allowed rising 4th and 5th graders to use strategies to avoid the summer slump. This session will allow attendees to see that they too can close that Great Digital Divide with their students!

For more information please watch the video from Mrs. Tennies the Principal of Chestatee Elementary: https://youtu.be/PFO7g88RFmk


Project Connect Evidence:

The original 9 students were measured on 18 pieces of data. Results showed an 89% increase with students’ achievement and motivation. This year we used the same surveys and are tracking the same areas for the students who are in our summer pilot. We will be able to share the most accurate and up to date information after receiving our milestones data in the fall.


Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

  • Carolyn Craddock has been an educator in the State of Georgia for 9 years. During this time she has taught 1st Grade, 4th grade, 5th Grade, Technology Specials, and EIP/Title 1. She is currently the Instructional Technology Specialist at Chestatee Elementary School. In her role at Chestatee she trains teachers how to effectively integrate technology into their instruction. She also has helped to pilot Wifi Wednesdays and Project Connect Summer School for rising 4th and 5th Graders. She loves creating silly videos for her school, but working with teachers and students is the best part of her job!
  • Polly Tennies is the Principal of Chestatee Elementary School in Forsyth County, GA. Over the course of her career, Polly has held the roles of First Grade Teacher, Title 1 Teacher, Instructional Coach, and Assistant Principal in several school systems: Queen Anne’s County, MD, Marietta City, GA, Norfolk City, VA, and Forsyth County, GA.She is a Nationally Certified Teacher who values teaching and learning. Polly has attended Juniata College, PA, Loyola College, MD and University of Georgia. She is currently completing her doctorate in Educational Leadership at Kennesaw State University, GA.
  • Meghann Farmer is currently the Instructional Technology Specialist on Special Assignment for Forsyth County Schools. After working as a teacher and ITS, she spent two years in the curriculum department of an educational software company before returning to Forsyth County Schools. In her role at the district office, she works with educators across the district to meet district goals and ensure they effectivel integrate technology.

Keyword Descriptors

online learning, equity, digital divide

Presentation Year


Start Date

3-9-2016 11:15 AM

End Date

3-9-2016 12:30 PM

This document is currently not available here.


Mar 9th, 11:15 AM Mar 9th, 12:30 PM

Closing the “Great Digital Divide” for At-Risk Students


Do you want to learn how to close the Great Digital Divide for at-risk students at your school? Come join Chestatee Elementary School (2015 Family Friendly Partnership Award Winners)as we explore ways to give all children a chance to stay connected digitally and academically in the 21st Century School.