Oral History: A Computer For Every Student

The Story of the RMHS One-to-One Initiative


Seniors enrolled in the second semester honors journalism class conducted a series of interviews to record the decision-making, planning, and logistics that were needed to carry out the one-to-one computing initiative at RMHS.  What went into selecting, purchasing, and distributing over a thousand new laptop computers?  Here is the story in the words of administrators, teachers, and students.

Interview Subjects and Reporters

Dr. Milaschewski, Superintendent of Schools, interviewed by Callie Sullivan and Moise Anglade

Mr. Carr, RPS Technology Director, interviewed by Alice Lin  and Maddie Rzepka

Mr. Tracey, RMHS Principal, interviewed by Jackie Malley and Joshua Moschella

Mr. Strout, RMHS Technology Integration Specialist, interviewed by Ben Costa and Alex Shikhanovich

Ms. Bedingfield, RMHS math teacher, interviewed by Jonathan Van Magness and Lindsey Weiden

Mr. Skehan, RMHS math teacher, interviewed by Han Diedrich

Pete Koster (’22), student, interviewed by Margaux Gellot and Annie McConnell

Megan Fitzpatrick (’25), student, interviewed by Kiley Brown

Getting the Green Light & Deciding on a Model

Mr. Carr:

So since I started here in 2015 we’ve been trying to modernize the computers for the district and so the past year we had an opportunity to purchase the computers. Really had no idea how we were going to do it. We just had the money and we had to spend it so purchased the computers last year and basically formulated a process for deploying them in time before this year. The main issue obviously was stock, we couldn’t get the machines, everything that we ordered was custom ordered so for us to get it in a timely matter it took time, it took almost nine or eight months.

Since I started here in 2015 we’ve been trying to modernize the computers for the district…

— Mr. Carr, RPS Technology Director

 The main reason (we went with Windows-based PCs instead of another kind of device) is the way that our environment is set up, is very Microsoft-focused, so we have every one of our automation tools and every one of our management tools and monitoring tools, all the tools that we have in our toolbox are geared towards Windows computers. It takes a completely different skill set to manage Apple devices or even Chromebook devices. My background lends well to managing these types of devices, so that’s one of the reasons I think I was hired for this position is because my background is completely corporate in Microsoft. So I took a very different approach than probably most technology leaders would and other schools districts just because of my background. 

Summer 2021: New Leaders Inherit the Initiative

Dr. Milaschewski:

I think this work started prior to me coming on as Superintendent, and I know that this is something that the previous superintendent and a lot of the district leaders have been trying to roll out over a long period of time, and I know that they were excited that last year they finally had the funding to purchase all the devices to get them into the district prior to this year. So, I think my initial reaction was excitement. I think it’s important that all of our kids have access to technology and I think that being able to get devices in the hands of all of our students is really exciting.

I think that being able to get devices in the hands of all of our students is really exciting.

— Dr. Milaschewski

Mr. Tracey:

I became aware of the one to one initiative back in July when I started, and yet we didn’t have any laptops, or the computers weren’t on site. And they were delayed getting here until probably the end of October. And in some cases, I think we had two pallets delivered in November. And so, we kind of sat on them for a bit, they were upstairs, they needed to be configured, which was an enormous amount of work done by the technicians. So, that took about a month and a half.

Getting Computers to Students

Mr. Tracey:

Nobody thought rolling it out in January was going to be a good idea–nobody did–myself included. I had five teachers, Ms, Bedingfield, Ms. Burke, Ms. Baskin, Ms. Speziale,  and Mr. Strout. We met, and they said let’s just do it, we can figure this out. It took us about a week and a half to figure out the logistics of it.

Ms. Bedingfield:

We had a committee to discuss how we thought the roll-out should go, and the first four meetings were with people from inside the district. We really had nailed down specifics for the high school, which is probably more complicated than what they had to do in middle school.

When I showed up that day we met all together (as a high school team), the principal already had a plan for the day. We really tried to think about “What are all the things that could go wrong? What are the things that we can do to make this work smoothly?

We met, and they said let’s just do it, we can figure this out.

— Mr. Tracey


Mr. Strout:

At the beginning I was in charge of organizing who was getting what, making sure the data was right for who we were distributing it to, and doing a lot of the security check work on students filling out the new acceptable use policy, parents filling out the new policy.

Megan Fitzpatrick:

I was in English, and my teacher said that if we needed to go get them we could. And, Mr. Tracey asked for my name, and then I got my computer. It went smoothly overall, but it kind of took a long time because there were a lot of people.

In The Classroom

Mrs. Bedingfield:

I really loved the idea of everybody being able to have a laptop. I didn’t really do much of anything online before last year, but I found all kinds of great programs and I learned more last year than I have in any other year of being a teacher. I wanted to apply those things equitably among my students and also not have them on their phones where they are constantly distracted by messages, so I love everybody having a laptop that functions. It’s been awesome.

I love everybody having a laptop that functions. It’s been awesome.

— Ms. Bedingfield

Mr. Skehan:

 I was very excited for us to shutdown BYOD which would then push students towards using their computers instead of using their phones. I find the phones to be detrimental to just about all learning and social interaction in the school.

Mr. Strout:

I know most teachers are saying now they know kids have a laptop, so they know they can do an activity as opposed to worrying about oh, does everyone have a laptop? Who doesn’t have one? They don’t have to track down a cart so that they can get extra laptops for (a class). 

Pete Koster:

Whenever we need computers, like we’re doing online group projects or writing paper–we obviously need computers. And so rather than me having to lug my laptop that I now keep at home to and from school, I can just keep my setup there and my charger and my mouse, and now I can bring my school one and not worry about switching them out or forgetting something at home because I just keep this one in my backpack and leave that one there.

Megan Fitzpatrick:

A lot of my teachers now use, like, virtual lessons. I do more classwork on the computer as opposed to the paper classwork that we used to do.

The Future

Dr. Milaschewski:

I know one thing they’re doing now is a genius bar where they’re trying to put in some students to try to provide some initial tech support which I think would be a help. So they’re just starting that now and it’s to use students who are really good in this area as the first line of people to help students and staff if they’re having issues with tech.

It’s really to the credit of the staff and the students that it was able to be rolled out so successfully mid-year…

— Mr. Tracey

Mr. Tracey:

We’re making sure that students have the devices in their hands…but at the same time I’m not sure we have the full structure in place to support a one-to-one initiative here.  And that’s gonna take some time- it will probably take over the summer.

It’s really to the credit of the staff and the students that it was able to be rolled out so successfully mid-year– I was laughing with my principal colleagues at different schools, and they all thought we were crazy for even trying to do this, so it is what it is.