Tablets provide JHS students with next level experiences

By Krishnan Collins
Delta Digital News Service

JONESBORO – The Foundation for Jonesboro Public Schools awarded a Jonesboro High School art teacher $1,000 so he could provide drawing tablets for his class and expand the abilities of his students. 

David Leggett used the money he received from a grant to purchase Huion 610pro tablets for his digital art media class. Although the tablets are a staple of the digital art media class, Leggett said other art classes should eventually be able to use them. 

After applying for a grant from the foundation, Leggett did not find out he won until foundation members visited his class during a school day. The awarding of the money surprised the art teacher. Members of the foundation walked through the halls of JHS ringing a cowbell as they approached his door. 

   “They don’t tell you you’re awarded,” Leggett said. “You submit your thing and then you wait. If you’re lucky enough to hear the cowbell come to your door, then you’re like OK. I didn’t realize it until they opened the door. It was right outside the door, I was like, that noise seems to be getting louder. Then it dawned on me, it clicked. I might’ve won. I can be excited now.”

   Leggett bought 17 tablets with the grant money and the tablets helped students achieve goals they might not have been able to achieve in the past. 

   “It helps a lot of the kids,” Leggett said. “A lot of kids feel like they can’t draw. So, they get into the computer side of it and know they can undo stuff and redo. They feel like they have a little bit more control over their media.”

   In classes like digital art media, students now approach projects with more confidence. 

   “In the digital classes, if I was to set a piece of paper in front of them and say we’re going to draw a face, a lot of the kids would say I can’t do that,” Leggett said. “So what we’re doing right now is practicing on using the tools and then we’re learning how to trace the face and the contours of the face.”

   Maddy Grubb, a junior at JHS, said she never really used a lot of technology in her art classes in the past and the tablets were her first experience with high-tech equipment when it comes to art. She noted how the tablets changed the game in her art classes recently. 

   “I feel like it definitely makes it easier for us,” Grubb said about the tablets. “When we have to use computers in our art class, it’s a little bit harder. It’s not as accessible as when you can use a tablet. The tablets definitely make it easier for us to draw and trace for our art projects.” 

   Grubb said she was nervous at first using technology to create art, but in the end, she realized how helpful the tablets were to use. 

   “I was a little nervous because I wasn’t really sure what it was going to be about,” Grubb said. “But it’s actually a lot easier than you think. You just plug it up to the computer and press a couple buttons. It’s very easy.”

  Another student, Brian Holmes, held more experience with high tech art equipment. The JHS sophomore used other tablets in the past and commented on why tablets are so important for art students. 

   “Being able to undo and redo and free transform objects is really helpful,” Holmes said. “So I don’t have to manually go back and erase it.”

   Holmes used a variety of tablets in the past and mentioned some of the advantages of the Huion tablets in Leggett’s art class.

  “The hot keys are really simple and the pressure sensitivity is pretty good too,” Holmes said. “Overall it’s just a really nice, simple tablet.”
  JHS offers a variety of different art classes and both Grubb and Holmes acknowledged the focus on technology at JHS. The technology helps improve the classroom. 

   “The classes do care about the quality of the classes and what they give out,” Holmes said. “They know that higher quality things can help students produce higher quality work.”

   The impact of the tablets on students shows in the classroom. Leggett noted how the tablets help create art in ways that just takes a lot of pressure away from his students. 

   “I do think it will actually help them in observation,” Leggett said. “(It will help them) in drawing something that they can always go back and undo a line and redo a line. They can do this much easier when they have a tablet in front of them by pushing a button. There are so many options they can do. Their anxiety is so much lower.”

  Even with the success of the tablets in the classroom so far, Leggett still looked into the future and saw more ways to improve his classroom. 

   “Anytime I can get money for my kids, I’m definitely going to try and do that,” Leggett said. “I was not able to provide a classroom set of tablets this year. We got 17 with the money we got. I would love to be able to have a class set of 30. I would love to go back and just keep getting tablets or really anything.”

   Leggett applied for a foundation grant for the first time when he applied for the tablet money. He noted how the foundation’s impact really matters.

   “I think it’s great,” Leggett said. “We’re given a budget. We have 1,500 kids. We try our best and buy everything we can. When we needed to get something like those tablets, I was able to write that grant. They were able to get me the grant money to do that. (It’s great) to see the kids working with these things and just my overall excitement for being able to provide these for the kids.”

   Leggett’s passion for teaching showed when he talked about the impact of the grant. It is clear JHS and the district as a whole has an organization on its side ready to chip in when needed most.

   “They’ve provided grant, after grant, after grant,” Leggett said. It’s been great, that’s what we’re here for, we’re here to provide for the students.”

Editor’s Note: Art teacher David Leggett looks at a Huion 610Pro tablet. Leggett purchased the tablets for his class with money he received from a Foundation for Jonesboro Public Schools grant.