Over the past year, we have been paying close attention to the impact of technology and screens on all of our lives, but particularly on the lives of our children. Almost every day, we read about the negative influence of technology on our attention spans1 and on our personal relationships2. We hear all about “digital distraction” and “screen addiction.”
But, we don’t often hear much about the positive influence technology can have. At Republic Wireless, we believe the onus is on us, as technology innovators, to talk not just about the problem, but also about the solution. We believe that technology and screens have a time and a place, and that they can empower relationships and experiences, not just detract from them. And, we aren’t the only ones who think so. In fact, we recently learned that 65% of parents of school-aged children believe that technology, when used appropriately, can enhance experiences3. Furthermore, 61% often use technology as a teaching tool at home3.
Teachers play an integral role in instilling in our children the importance of balance, and in teaching them how to develop healthy relationships with technology and screens. We are excited to honor the important role teachers play in our children’s lives with our new Educator Appreciation Program, which provides K-12 teachers and support staff with 50% off their cell phone bills when activated with a valid school email address.
To wrap up Teacher Appreciation Week and celebrate our new Educator Appreciation Program, we recently sat down with NC-based teacher Melanie Huynh-Duc to learn more about her experiences in the public education system and how she encourages her students to develop healthy relationships with technology.
Meet Melanie Huynh-Duc
Almost everyone can fondly recall their favorite teacher. The role teachers play in our lives is so impactful, it’s no surprise we remember them as adults. For some, the impact a teacher has is so significant, those students grow up to become teachers themselves. That was the case for Melanie Huynh-Duc. Melanie fondly remembers her 9th and 11th grade English teacher, Marjorie Lancaster, who had the unique ability to identify individual students’ strengths. She emphasized these strengths, nurturing and encouraging her students to exceed their expectations. It was this attention Mrs. Lancaster paid to her students’ unique characteristics that inspired Melanie to pursue a career in education.
Melanie earned her bachelor’s degree from UNC-Chapel Hill before attending Wake Forest University, where she completed her master’s degree and furthered her love for secondary education. Melanie went on to apply her studies at Northwest Guilford High School in Greensboro, NC, where she has been teaching English and journalism for 13 years.
Melanie loves being a teacher. Aside from her own two children, it’s what gets her out of bed in the morning. It’s the wonderful young people she teaches, the fast-paced days, and the opportunities that come with the job that keep her going. “Each day is another chance for a fun lesson, a great class discussion, a heart-to-heart with a student in need,” she says.
“Each day is another chance for a fun lesson, a great class discussion, a heart-to-heart with a student in need.”
Melanie’s days begin with her technology-empowered journalism class. Despite budget cuts, she’s been able to acquire 13 computers for her classroom. These computers allow her students to hone their skills with Adobe InDesign and Photoshop to design the school newspaper. Melanie believes it’s important to allow teenagers to manage and monitor their own behavior, and leveraging technology in the classroom is a great way to exhibit that responsibility. She even lets her students use their cell phones during class to upload new media and content to the school newspaper’s website. “I trust my students to keep their phones at their desks or in their book bags as long as they are not interfering with my lesson,” explains Melanie.
Melanie’s integration of technology in her class differs from that of many of her fellow teachers, who confiscate students’ phones prior to the start of class. Striving to make her class “so engaging that classroom management becomes a non-issue,” she only steps in if students are misusing technology.
Nevertheless, the increase of technology in schools surely comes with its share of challenges and Melanie works hard to maintain a balance in her classroom. “We don’t want technology to replace face-to-face conversations, creative playtime, or time outside,” says Melanie.
“We don’t want technology to replace face-to-face conversations, creative playtime, or time outside.”
Although technology in education continues to evolve, what it means to be a teacher remains the same. “If you love working with young people and you love your content area, the years will fly by,” says Melanie.
Learn More About Our Educator Appreciation Program
Like Melanie, we believe technology plays a valuable role in the educational experience, and we love her approach to teaching her students how to appropriately balance technology with face-to-face interactions.
We celebrate teachers like Melanie across our country, who stand for a phone-life balanceTM. Melanie and so many other teachers share our values and incorporate them into the examples they set for their students, the lessons they teach, and the way they manage their classrooms.
We applaud the K-12 educators and support staff across the country who support a phone-life balanceTM, both in their classrooms and at home. If you have risen to the challenge to empower the students in your schools to establish healthy relationships with technology and screens, we have a 50% discount for you – real savings that you can spend on the people and experiences that matter most to you.
If you are not currently a Republic Wireless member, we’d love to have you! Click here to sign up for our Educator Appreciation Program.
If you are already a Republic Wireless member and you would like be included in the Educator Appreciation Program, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org from your school email address, and indicate the email address associated with your account.
3 Nationally representative online survey of 1,403 U.S. parents conducted by Republic Wireless; May 2018