FORT LAUDERDALE | Cardinal Gibbons High School received the U.S. Department of Education’s Blue Ribbon for Excellence in Education 25 years ago. Now, in recognition of strides in advanced teaching technology, one of the world’s top companies has presented the school with another honor: designation as an Apple Distinguished School.
“It is a fantastic opportunity for us not only to hang our hats on that distinction, but it allows us to learn more from Apple,” said Oscar Cedeño, the school’s principal, after receiving the news from the technology company. “We also get to learn from other schools,” he added.
With the Apple honor, the school joins a group of 500-plus “distinguished” schools across 32 countries. Cardinal Gibbons serves more than 1,100 students and is among two other schools in the Archdiocese of Miami to earn the distinction this year. The others are St. Anthony School in Fort Lauderdale and St. Mark School in Southwest Ranches.
Two more archdiocesan schools — Immaculata-La Salle High in Miami and Archbishop Edward McCarthy High in Southwest Ranches — earned the distinction a few years ago.
A great aspect of the Apple Distinguished School program is that schools holding the honor are encouraged to network and share information with each other to enhance the mission of educating and preparing students for their future in a technology-driven world.
Cardinal Gibbons began to explore ways to use technology in the classrooms in 2012. Today, Apple technology is integrated into the school’s curriculum. Apple tools and devices loaded with apps in iPads are in the hands of students, faculty and staff.
All students use iPads, and faculty members are equipped with Apple MacBook and use other Apple tools in the classroom, including projectors, touch screens and televisions. Teachers use Apple apps to distribute and collect assignments, present lessons, keep an eye on student progress and collaborate one-on-one with students.
“More than half of our teachers are Apple certified,” said Cedeño about teacher training conducted by Apple. As part of the Apple distinction, teachers have opportunities for continued professional development and training to empower them to teach and assist the students in their classrooms.
Sister Bethany Marie Miller, a member of the Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary, joined Cardinal Gibbons this school year as a theology teacher. She began Apple training at the end of the summer. She is now teaching 20 to 30 students per class using the school’s Apple products.
“I received good training,” she said. “The Apple technology is easy. I like that everything is paperless. I can give my students materials. They send everything back to me. Everything is seamless.”
The technology helps teachers and school leaders better track student performance and progress, and evaluate programs to continue to provide the best in education.
Theology teacher and coach Andrew Fasullo had the school has greatly benefited from embracing Apple technology.
Teachers are taking advantage of and participating in professional development courses on their own time. The Apple products used in the classrooms help educators present an array of interesting and innovative lessons to create stimulating classroom environments. The apps are helping with lessons and studies that are keeping students engaged and earning top grades.
“We wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” he said, without the products, support and training provided by Apple. “There are always challenges, but the benefits outweigh any challenges.”