Sandra Pannell, teacher at New Albany High School
By Dillon Mullan
Sandra Pannell taught math the same way for 23 years. Then the iPads showed up.
In 2015, every student at New Albany High School received one of the touch-screen devices. The old format of flipping through text books and raising hands to speak one at a time was over.
“I don’t have a quiet class anymore. I encourage them to interact with each other.” Pannell said. “We’re no longer in rows. It’s small groups of desks. Students communicate with each other. They get up and present to the class and can teach the class from their iPads. We smile. We laugh a lot.”
While the traditional style of classroom with a teacher lecturing at the front was compatible with some learning styles, its strictness hindered others. Now Pannell loads notes and video explanations onto every student’s iPad. Information that used to take a whole class to write on the board is now instantly available for reference on demand.
The time saved allows students to collaborate to understand the material through their preferred method.
“They’re not as afraid to speak as they used to be. That gives children the freedom to discover and pick out their learning styles,” Pannell said. “I want to teach them to interact with each other. In the real world you’re going to have to work with people.”
Pannell says it took two summers of training to master the new technology. As she enters her 27th year teaching at New Albany, she has seen a handful of familiar names of children whose parents were once her students. Her fellow math teacher Allie Speck was once in her class, as was her grandaughter’s kindergarten teacher.
While generations and new technologies have passed through her classroom, Pannell’s commitment to education has stayed the same. The quote ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,’ from Nelson Mandela is painted onto her metal door.
“I painted it on without permission,” Pannell said. “It’s not going anywhere, and it’s there for the world to see.”