CNN comes to Maplesville

Published 7:46 pm Thursday, September 2, 2010

The world will be watching Maplesville on Friday, as the school’s distance learning classroom will be featured on CNN as part of an education segment.

Earlier this week, camera crews set up at two Alabama schools — Maplesville and Reeltown — to film the ACCESS Distance Learning program in action.

ACCESS, launched by Gov. Bob Riley’s task force in 2004, allows schools to offer more subjects through online courses and videoconferencing. The acronym stands for Alabama Connecting Classrooms, Educators and Students Statewide.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to not only showcase Alabama but also showcase Maplesville and what is good going on within our system,” said Maplesville Principal Maggie Hicks. “It gives us an exposure that we have not had in the past.”

Two Maplesville teachers, Spanish teacher DeNé Carter and language arts teacher Gerald Creel, were interviewed during the filming. Carter was delivering a lesson to students at Reeltown using the videoconferencing equipment.

To briefly explain how it works, Carter was teaching students at both schools using Maplesville’s distance learning lab. The students at Reeltown could see her on a monitor and hear her through speakers, and she could see and hear them as well. This is made possible through a broadband Internet connection.

Carter admitted she was a bit overwhelmed by the experience but was also excited that ACCESS was being recognized on a global scale.

“It is not only a chance to bring positive media coverage to Maplesville and Reeltown, but also the condition of our educational system in Alabama as a whole,” Carter said. “Thanks to ACCESS, we are just two of countless small town schools throughout the state that are reaping the benefits of bringing otherwise inaccessible courses to our students.”

Hicks said the videographer was stationed at Maplesville, and the reporter was at Reeltown. The filming went on for about an hour, but the segment will likely be much shorter.

The school made an effort to keep the filming low-key. Many were not even aware that it was taking place, Hicks said.

According to the state Department of Education, the program will air Friday, Sept. 3 on CNN at 8 a.m. Central Time.

“Technology is the future,” Hicks said, “and we’re already there with the classes we’re able to offer and also deliver.”