The Houston County School District can now call itself the national technology leader. The Center for Digital Education and the National School Boards Association just ranked Houston County first in the country for large school districts.
With a new title to prove it, Houston County Schools are now on top when it comes to technology. Deputy Superintendent Cindy Flesher says the tech-transformation came after the county passed the Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in 2012.
"So we were able to ramp up our focus on technology back in the classrooms," Flesher said.
But it's not just E-SPLOST funds that helped the district ditch outdated devices. Flesher says grants and partnerships with local businesses continue to help Houston County create 21st century classrooms, like the ones at Northside Elementary School in Warner Robins.
Northside STEM resource teacher Marla Garnto says kindergarten through fifth graders are learning to computer code using these toy caterpillars.
"To be honest, when we start kids in coding, we're thinking we're going to teach them, but all we do is open a door," Garnto said. "Especially for our young kids, we underestimate what they can do."
Fifth-grader Chase Coxon has been learning to code since he was in third grade.
"Then I thought about making this my job when I grow up," Coxon said. "And then I started exploring different coding websites to try and find out which ones I like the most."
STEM resource teacher Adrienne Bickel says using technology in the classroom now, prepares her students for later.
"If they learn it young just like a foreign language, they can take it and flourish with it later on when they're in high school and college," Bickel said. "These are our future computer programmers."