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Mineola Among The 25 Most Innovative School Districts In U.S.

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- More than two dozen school districts across America have the right stuff when it comes to innovation, and one of them is right here in our area.

As CBS2's Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday, the Mineola School District on Long Island has been tapped among the Top 25.

Shop class is unrecognizable. Gone are old-school drafting tables. In their place, white-board desks for better brainstorming. There's also vinyl printers and computer-controlled cutters spit out products that can be sold.

"We have so much opportunity here and it really helps our learning, and prepares us for the real world," 12th grader Alex Marchiselli said.

Mineola School District
Students in the Mineola School District are being subjected to cutting edge teaching approaches that have resulted in the district being named among the 25 most innovative in the United States. (Photo: CBS2)

The so-called "fab lab," which is short for fabrication, teaches entrepreneurship, marketing and math.

"You're taking programming and turning it into a chair," 12th grader Andrew Kirkorian said.

Another reason Mineola has been named among the most innovative school districts: universal technology.

"If we are going to do it for one child, we are going to do it for every child," Mineola Superintendent Dr. Michael Nagler said. "At a basic minimum, every child has internet access and every child has an iPad."

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It's unconventional wisdom that has been hailed by the School Superintendents Association.

"How do you get kids to learn? You have to engage them," Nagler said. "So to leverage the tools available in the world today, to get kids involved in their studies and to get them engrossed in the subjects is critical."

It's all-in technology includes green screens that transform classrooms, and coding from pre-K on up.

"Once you get the hang of it it's not that complicated," one student said.

And libraries that are anything but quiet, offering low-tech, too.

"So they talk to each other, learn strategy, think critically whether it be on a device or a board game," Mineola High School Principal Dr. Whittney Smith said.

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And every student codes their own personal web page.

The price for all of this? The district reconfigured and downsized buildings, producing savings it reinvested. Pre-K to second grade is now in its own building and the high school is eighth grade through 12th.

The secret to staying on the cutting edge? The superintendent said innovation is all about planning ahead, five to 10 years ahead. That's when the kindergarteners will be in middle school and high school.

Mineola has its own YouTube to channel to share its innovations, called "Mineola Creative Content."

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