WEST UNION, W.Va. – Doddridge County Schools and internet service company Citynet have announced a partnership to coincide with the roll out of broadband expansion currently going on in the county.
Doddridge County Superintendent Adam Cheeseman and Jim Martin, president and chief executive officer of Citynet, provided details on a new STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math) curriculum for Doddridge County High School designed by JASON Learning.
Beginning in the Fall of 2020, students at Doddridge County High School will be given two challenges, according to a press release. The first will be a design and pitch challenge, where students will apply their learning and skills to imagine, prototype and pitch a solution to successfully set-up first-time internet users in Doddridge County. The course will encourage students to think as an entrepreneur and build a successful business plan to help first-time internet users properly connect to the internet.
“The students will be given a problem and they then have to find and create a business that could solve that problem. So there’s some ready-made ones that this curriculum will entail, but then the localized one will involve CityNet, and that will be pretty well the majority of the course. It will be focused around that,” said Cheeseman.
The second challenge will be a STEM curriculum challenge motivated by the math and engineering challenges of building the networking infrastructure required to bring the internet to new households in Doddridge County, the release explains.
In each, students will be tasked with formulating and presenting a solution to the real-world problem presented by Citynet management.
“It is imperative that all of our students have broadband service, regardless of their economic realities. We believe that this public/private relationship will be a statewide model to address the digital divide throughout West Virginia. When we first met with JASON Learning last fall to discuss a curriculum based on the upcoming broadband expansion, little did we realize how vital these preparations would be today when all instruction is being delivered remotely,” said Cheeseman.
The curriculum will take advantage of a public/private project to provide broadband service to rural Doddridge County, according to the release. Doddridge County Commission will be providing $1.5
million, and the Doddridge County Board of Education will be providing $600,000 for the needed infrastructure.
“Especially now we can see the importance of internet connectivity in the underserved areas of our county. We are doing what we can to provide remote education to all of our students, and with the help of Citynet and JASON Learning we will succeed,” said Cheeseman.
Dr. Eleanor Smalley, JASON Learning’s president and CEO, emphasized that the project and
partnership are unique in other ways, as well.
“While there is broad recognition that STEM skills are key to accessing the high-paying jobs of the future, most communities are not making a clear connection between classroom learning, their local industries, and job opportunities. What’s happening now in Doddridge—linking curriculum, local businesses, and real-world problem-solving that requires STEM thinking—is an exciting new model for student learning and workforce development that communities across the U.S. should strive to emulate,” said Smalley.
Doddridge County Schools and Citynet are partnering with JASON Learning, a nonprofit founded by Dr. Robert D. Ballard, which provides curriculum and learning experiences in STEM-related fields for K–12 students and high-quality professional development for teachers. The Citynet Design and Pitch Challenge will be available for schools across the country to implement in their schools, the release explains.
Citynet is currently constructing a $4 million broadband project in Doddridge County, with partial funding coming from Doddridge County Commission and the Doddridge County Board of Education. The project will provide broadband service to unserved and underserved portions of Doddridge
County, according to the release.