Administrator Magazine
Scholastic Administrator is a must-read resource for 240,000 of today's results-driven school leaders. Every issue features leadership for education executives, insight and analysis into what's next in education, and reporting on cutting-edge technologies in real life applications.

Leadership Profile: James Ponce

This Texas superintendent is confidently rolling out the biggest iPad deployment in the country.

Sometimes issues in education are complicated-they require nuanced explanation and careful thought before you can assess them. Other times, you hear about a new initiative and simply think, Are they crazy? McAllen ISD's plan to give each of its 25,000 students an iPad or iPod Touch within a year seemed to fall in the latter category, so I called James Ponce, superintendent of the Texas district, and asked him that exact question. As you might expect, he doesn't think so. In fact, he fully expects this model to spread throughout education. Eyes will be fixed on the quasi-urban district, located just five minutes from the Mexico border, to see how its bold experiment plays out.

Q Most people who have heard of the scale of your plan are amazed and somewhat skeptical. How did you reach this point?

A It started [three years ago] with my entry plan. We asked a cadre of 30 to 40 parents and staff, "Do we have a 21st-century learning environment?" The answer was a resounding no. We concentrated on our learning environment and asked, "What are the necessary tools?"

Q Rollouts this large usually occur over a longer stretch of time. Why are you planning to deliver all the devices to the entire district within one year's time?
A In education, we never go to scale, and that hurts us. The demands on public education are the highest they have ever been. A pilot can take five years. We don't have the time to take four to five years. I'm not very patient. I have a sense of urgency.

Q How is your district paying for this?
A We're using our general fund and trying to leverage special revenue from the feds as much as possible. We have to be creative at mixing up funding sources. We had $6 million set aside to fund desktop computers, document readers, and overhead projectors. That plan was archaic, so we shifted the money to mobile learning. We're also hoping for some cost avoidance down the line on paper and books.

Q Are you planning on getting rid of textbooks and using only digital materials?
A We have been moving quietly in that direction. Our entire middle school curriculum doesn't have textbooks as we know them. We were also one of the first K-12 districts in the country to join iTunes U, with our TLC3 program [Transforming Learning in the Classroom, Campus, and Community]. We use it to share information, in school and in the community.

Q What help are you getting?
A Mark Edwards has taken me on as a mentee. I have visited Mooresville [in North Carolina, where Edwards is superintendent]. I've taken a wealth of information from him and his staff. Abilene Christian University has been a good partner. They're renowned for their work in mobile technology. We did a lot of work thinking this through. We have conference calls every week.

Q How will you know if the plan has been a success?
A The whole idea is to move away from measuring what students consume to what they create. Hold me to the old measurements-I'll work to succeed there-but I'm excited about coming up with new ways to better define what students are learning. We are really banking on having an authentic conversation about learning, not a marketing conversation about a gimmick to get attention.
We also know that learning is a social entity now. Putting these devices in the hands of every student can impact a whole family, from parents to younger siblings.

  • Scholastic Store
  • The Scholastic Store  
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets PB

    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets PB

    by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPre

    Harry is about to return to the Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry after a summer with his horrible relatives, but an impish creature warns him to stay away. What challenges and dangers await him? And who -- or what -- is turning students to stone? Your child won’t want to miss the further exploits of Harry Potter in Book Two of this best-selling series.

    $8.79 You save: 20%
    books;paperback books;paperbacks | Ages 9 and Up
    Add To Cart
    Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets PB
    Ages 9 and Up $8.79
  • Scholastic Store
  • The Scholastic Store  
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) eBook

    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) eBook

    by J.K. Rowling and Mary GrandPre

    Note: All Storia eBooks of the Harry Potter series are available for purchase exclusively through Pottermore: a unique online Harry Potter Experience by J.K. Rowling.

    To purchase Harry Potter eBooks you'll be redirected to the Pottermore Shop, where you can complete your order after you sign in or create a new account. Be sure to select Storia as your download option at the end of your purchase to successfully link your new Harry Potter eBooks to your Storia account. Then you'll be able to read and enjoy Harry Potter just like any other Storia eBook you may own or discover at Scholastic.

    The evil Lord Voldemort and his supporters, the Death Eaters, have infiltrated every aspect of the Wizarding world, with frightening and tragic results. With the guidance of Professor Dumbledore, it's time for Harry Potter to join the fight; but first, he must learn all he can about the wizard who intends to kill him.

    Meanwhile, life at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry goes on. The professors are more demanding than ever; especially Professor Snape, whose loyalties are starting to seem very suspect. Harry develops powerful new skills in magic, thanks to a textbook that once belonged to the mysterious Half-Blood Prince. And like 16-year-olds everywhere, Harry and his best friends, Ron and Hermione, experience the perils of love and heartbreak.

    As Harry's inevitable battle with Voldemort grows ever closer, he comes to understand exactly what it will take to defeat the Dark Lord for good. His mission leads him and Dumbledore to the darkest corners of the Wizarding world and into the depths of Voldemort's wickedness; and results in betrayals and sacrifices of epic proportions.

    With touching, funny revelations, a shocking conclusion, and an entirely new set of magical secrets yet to unfold, this sixth volume sets the stage for the monumental final battle to come.

    books;ebooks;pottermore ebooks | Ages 12 and Up
    Add To Cart
    Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Book 6) eBook
    Ages 12 and Up $9.99
Help | Privacy Policy




(Separate multiple email addresses with commas)

Check this box to send yourself a copy of the email.


Scholastic respects your privacy. We do not retain or distribute lists of email addresses.