At New Horizons school in Goldthwaite, Texas, success is defined differently. The school serves 100 students – ages 5 to 17 – from kindergarten through high school who reside at New Horizons Ranch, a residential treatment center for at-risk youth. Because of the nature of the kids’ background, the organization’s curriculum is tailored to make the most of classroom time and help them transition to the next chapter in their education. With that, technology is key, giving students a sense of inclusion and empowering them to feel confident while mastering new subjects and technology. The school wanted an affordable display solution that would help engage every student while also helping kids master technology that they would face in the future.
“Our kids have a lot of hurdles to overcome when they come to New Horizons, and not just educational. We don’t want to add more stress to their lives, so we have to factor that into the classroom environment so it’s positive, enriching, and exciting. One of our biggest goals is ensuring these kids are comfortable when they move on and interact in an entirely new classroom,” said Shelley Williams, New Horizons’ principal.
With that in mind, Williams attended a nearby charter school conference. One of the first booths she made sure to check out was BenQ. She had a great experience with the brand in the past and had heard testimonies of the company’s education solutions. Working with a limited budget, the BenQ team set down to assess what solutions would be the best fit.
In addition to helping expose kids to more technology, the solution had to address several other challenges. First, it needed to be mounted away from curious hands as well as fit the small classrooms at New Horizons without any loss of brightness or picture quality. Second, because New Horizons often pairs up grade levels in one classroom, such as combining second and third grade students, teachers needed to be able to seamlessly and easily adapt content to teach each grade level. It also had to integrate with student response system as well as have interactive capabilities. Williams envisioned an integrated and interactive solution that would help kids live out the school’s Circle of Courage philosophy, which includes mastery of technology as a way to help kids fit in, feel like they belong, and achieve independence. Finally, they had to be quick and easy to install by the school’s maintenance team.
BenQ determined short-throw interactive projectors would be the best fit, including the MW826ST. The unit was made for the rigors of the classroom. The projector is wall-mounted, so it would be out of reach of students. In addition, its short-throw capabilities meant that even from as little as three feet away, the projector would cast an engrossing 120-inch, interactive work surface with 3,400 high ANSI lumen brightness and WXGA resolution. Without dimming the lights, it would provide the perfect projection performance with every image and every letter crisp enough to see from the back of the classroom.
Designed for educators, it features easy operation that would eliminate any extra work for New Horizons’ teachers. In addition, it featured a deep toolbox to help make lessons stick in the minds of students, no matter the grade level. BenQ’s PointWrite™ technology, for example, would allow New Horizons’ students to get excited solving math problems by transforming the surface into collaborative canvas. The projector’s QWrite annotation software would enable multiple students at a time work, even allowing teachers to save and share students’ work as a JPEG, PNG, BMP, or PDF file that they could reference and study later. With built-in templates, teachers would be able to quickly build lesson plans. Opportunities also abound since the projector features Mobile High-Definition Link (MHL) support. Teachers would be able to connect them to a growing number of devices with an HDMI cable or wirelessly stream from devices, including Apple iPads, via BenQ’s QCast wireless dongle.
Williams also saw how her kids could hone their social and problem-solving skills while mastering advanced display technology. Because of the projector’s innovative infrared technology that enables the camera to detect finger or object movements, multiple students would feel comfortable and well supported to make annotations and answer questions. Its multitouch technology also meant that her students would become familiar with common touch gestures such as zooming in and out or scrolling.
Finally, with an integrated quick-install feature, even the school’s general maintenance staff would able to setup the projectors in each classroom in under a half hour. The smart feature perfectly adjusts and calibrates the screen without staff having to spend hours manipulating the settings. In addition to ease of setup, the school would have the option of maintaining multiple BenQ projectors through LAN-based control systems. Other benefits included BenQ’s innovative SmartEco™ technology, which intelligently adjusts light output and conserves energy without compromising brightness or quality. This technology extends lamp life by up to 15,000 hours — three times the normal lamp life. An Eco Blank mode further increases energy savings by automatically dimming lamp power when blank. Together, these features make it a cost-effective and bright investment for students’ futures.
Since installing the projectors last fall, the school has seen an incredible response from staff and students. For the first time, staff is able to create curriculum that addresses the capabilities of students and gets them excited for their future. Teachers are using Istation’s richly animated, game-like educational tools as well as Kahoot in conjunction with a classroom response system. The science teacher has even built virtual labs, opening a safe and entertaining way for kids to learn more effectively.
“These interactive projectors are helping to create a sense of belonging, independence, and mastery in the classroom,” said Williams. “There’s so much opportunity to do more with our students. We’re seeing more engagement that’s even encouraged more attendance. And for the first time ever, our students are passing assessment testing and are on the pathway to academic success.”
School Type: Public Charter, Alternative
School District: Orenda Charter School
School County: Mills County
Location: Goldthwaite, TX
Number of Students: 74
Grade Span: 1-12
Student-teacher ratio: 8 to 1
Principal: Ms. Shelley Williams
Websites: https://www.orendaeducation.org | https://www.newhorizonsinc.com/ranch/