New Albany Middle School students have a technological advantage almost no other such students have in the state thanks to the opening of the Imagine Lab.
There’s only one other similar lab in the state, Middle School Principal Paul Henry said. It’s in South Mississippi and has to serve several schools.
The lab was made possible through grants by Tennessee Valley Authority, Wal-Mart, the Toyota Wellspring Education Fund, Dean Provence Endowment for Education and CREATE Foundation, among others.
“I’m very proud of where we are and where we’re going,” Henry said. “The future looks bright for all our kids.” He thanked the many people who helped make the lab possible as well before the formal ribbon-cutting.
Henry stressed that every New Albany Middle School student will get to go into the lab. “They’re taking ideas and turning them into real, tangible products,” he said.
A video presentation made by Technology Director Robert Garrett displayed some of the skills students are learning in the Imagine Lab and Garrett added, “People are not paid for what they know. They are paid for what they can do.”
The lab shows them how to “do.”
The students have a lot of freedom concerning what they want to work on using the technological tools available to them, and the results are rewarding. “I can’t believe I did this,” appears to be a typical reaction.
Superintendent Dr. Lance Evans noted that the video seems to move toward a conclusion, but that is not so.
“There is no end to it,” he said. “This is the foundation of a much bigger plan.”
“When I was growing up you were told you were not successful if you did not have a college degree. That was wrong,” Evans said.
For students who may not fit in a traditional mold, he said of the lab and training, “This gives students options they never would have gotten.”
“It’s very important we understand the needs of business and industry,” he said. “It’s our job to provide that. It’s our job to recruit and train the highest quality work force.”
The elementary and high schools have already implemented advances in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education and the new Imagine Lab should fill in that gap.
“This will give them a taste of what’s out there before they get to high school,” he said earlier at the announcement of the lab, adding that can make their career choices more practical.
“At this point you can do whatever you want to,” he said.
“The kids are preparing for jobs that do not exist today,” Henry said.
A goal is not only to prepare students for good technology jobs, but for them to stay here and be productive.
Below are some photos from the ribbon-cutting and open house.