Bridging the Digital Divide: Rural New Mexico School Wins Top Award In Nationwide Competition to Bring Advanced Technologies to Education
A tiny, economically disadvantaged school has won top honors for its innovative use of technology to bring state-of-the-art educational services to students and parents spread across vast distances in northwestern New Mexico. Gallup-based Rehoboth Christian School is the winner of the Thin Client @ School™ Contest 2002 co-sponsored by thin-client technology leaders National Semiconductor (NYSE:NSM), Wyse Technology and Citrix Systems, Inc. (Nasdaq: CTXS).
Rehoboth Christian School will use the hardware, software and services of the award, valued at $104,000, to create a network of 150 thin clients in labs, classrooms and students’ homes, some of which are located more than 60 miles from the school’s central campus. The entire network will be managed by only two persons: a server administrator and a dedicated classroom IT support professional.
“Server-based thin-client computing proves to be a viable computing solution for K-12 schools thanks to its easy maintenance, reliability, security and cost effectiveness,” said David Jones, senior vice president, corporate marketing and development, for Citrix. “Rehoboth has clearly demonstrated an innovative and feasible way of bridging the ‘digital divide’ by enabling access to educational resources via the Internet, not only at school but also at home.”
Located in McKinley County, NM, Rehoboth Christian School enrolls more than 400 K-12 students, 45 percent of whom qualify for federal free and reduced fee lunch. According to a recent survey, five percent of Rehoboth’s high school students do not have a phone at home while more than 25 percent lack a computer or Internet connection. Rehoboth serves students in a 60-mile radius of Gallup, NM, many living on the rural Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo.
Rehoboth Christian School expects to complete implementation of the thin-client installation by next month. When finished, the network will consist of six PC-based servers. The school will receive 30 new thin-client devices and convert approximately 65 Macs and PC “fat clients” currently in use to thin clients for use at the school. An additional 50 devices will be acquired and deployed as thin clients in student homes far from support personnel. Using modem banks already established in the Gallup area, families of Rehoboth students will be given access to Rehoboth’s Citrix network free of charge.
A thin client is a desktop appliance with no hard drive, floppy drive, CD-ROM drive, or other moving components. Computing power, storage, applications and data are centralized on the server, providing users with easy desktop access to the latest educational tools. Centralized maintenance and updates help reduce support costs, provide reliable access to information, and improve control of student access.
“Thin-client technology will greatly increase Rehoboth’s ability to bring educational resources and improved communication solutions to not only our students and teachers, but to our community as well,” said Ron Polinder, Executive Director at Rehoboth Christian School. “For many of our students, their only access to technology is at the school. Our vision is to provide all students with the technology they need to succeed today and prepare themselves for the future. By outfitting homes with thin-client devices and shrinking the vast distance, we are enabling graduates to be both technologically and academically competitive when they enter college.“
Rehoboth already has the necessary network infrastructure and staffing in place for technology upgrades. The school has a fiber optic backbone connecting all five buildings on the 160-acre campus. Every computing device on campus is network-ready, connected to a local area network (LAN), and has Internet access.
The Thin Client @ School award, used in conjunction with other resources and partnerships, will allow Rehoboth to create new programs in science, economics, history and current events.
For example, in botany students learn about the local environment by gathering, researching, and presenting findings on thirty different local plant specimens. Students talk with Native American elders to learn about traditional uses and plant names, consult with members of the business community concerning economic uses of the plants, and sketch, paint, or digitally represent the specimens in their native environment. It is Rehoboth’s goal to enable students to catalogue the specimens, record them digitally, and enter the information into an interactive online database available for use by other educational institutions and the scientific community. Year after year, students will expand the database and refine existing files with new information.
The award package Rehoboth received includes 30 Wyseâ Winterm™ 3730LE Windows-based terminals (with integrated monitors) powered by National’s Geode™ technology; Citrixâ MetaFrame XP™ application server software for 70 concurrent users; National’s Global Connections Internet training course for teachers; servers; operating system software; and installation and technical training from sponsor-certified integrators.
About Rehoboth Christian School
Rehoboth Christian School is the leader in educational excellence for northwest New Mexico and northeast Arizona for over 400 children. Serving an economically and culturally diverse student body, academic excellence has been Rehoboth’s trademark for the past 100 years. Annually 95% of seniors continue in post-high school education. Students previously performing below grade level regularly meet standards because of Rehoboth’s highly skilled faculty, innovative curriculum, high standards, and technology-infused program. Additional information on the school is available at www.rcsnm.org.
About National Semiconductor
National Semiconductor is the premier analog company driving the information age. Combining real-world analog and state-of-the-art digital technology, the company is focused on the fast growing markets for wireless handsets; displays; information infrastructure, and information appliances. With headquarters in Santa Clara, California, National reported sales of $1.5 billion for its most recent fiscal year and has about 10,000 employees worldwide. Additional company and product information is available on the World Wide Web at www.national.com.