Verizon Innovative Learning Lab Opens at DuBois Academy

Lab’s cutting-edge technology to foster digital inclusion for students

December 2, 2021 – Students and teachers at W.E.B. DuBois Academy will get hands-on experience with next-generation technology at the school’s new Verizon Innovative Learning Lab. The lab will feature augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR) equipment, 3D printers, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), giving students fun, experiential learning opportunities.

“Verizon has been an invaluable partner for Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) as we work to address the digital divide in our community,” said Dr. Marty Pollio, JCPS superintendent. “This partnership has provided our students with next-generation technology, education, and opportunities to help move the world forward.”

W.E.B. DuBois student using 3-D printer
W.E.B. DuBois Academy is one of the first Jefferson County Public Schools’ sites to open a lab as part of the Verizon Innovative Learning program, Verizon’s nationwide education initiative addressing barriers to digital inclusion. The program is a key part of Citizen Verizon, the company’s responsible business plan for economic, environmental and social advancement.  Verizon, working with its nonprofit partners, is providing free technology, access and innovative learning tools to under-resourced schools across America, including 9,142 iPads, 2,249 hotspots, and 11,391 Verizon data plans to 24 JCPS schools since 2018.

“As a Verizon Innovative Learning School, we’ve seen firsthand how the technological equity gap has been eliminated for our scholars through the 1:1 initiative,” said DuBois Principal Robert Gunn. “Our entire school community is grateful and elated for the opportunity to further advance our ability to engage, eliminate barriers, and empower our scholars with our Verizon Innovative Learning Lab. The curriculum, resources, advanced tech, and lab space are all providing our students access to new learning opportunities.”

Kathryn Punsly, the school’s technology coach, agreed.

“You can just see the students light up when they enter the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab and have an opportunity to use the lab technology,” she said. “It is truly hands-on, real-world experience – and students are learning the digital tools at such a fast pace, they’re teaching the teachers!” 

Verizon’s partners, Heart of America and the J. Orin Edson Entrepreneurship + Innovation Institute at Arizona State University, helped design W.E.B DuBois Academy’s state-of-the-art space for the lab and will train teachers on using the emerging technology as part of the curriculum, respectively.

“So many students across the nation lack the access to technology and resources they need to be successful in today’s digital world,” said Krista Bistline, representing Verizon.  “On behalf of Verizon, we are excited to enable students at the W.E.B. DuBois Academy in Jefferson County Public Schools with this multi-year initiative that integrates emerging technology with an online, project-based curriculum along with real-world problem-solving in a custom-designed, experiential learning lab.”

Khalid Matthews, a ninth-grade student tech team member, already understands the impact of technology, like what he’s using in the Verizon Innovative Learning Lab, will have on his life.

“We can change the world with technology,” he said.