ESSEX, MO (KFVS) - Richland School District made adjustments to the school to make learning more comfortable...and the students are loving it.
The district implemented the use of cell phones in class about five years ago. They also let the students draw on the ceiling. Both of which students feel makes learning a more enjoyable experience.
"Instead of this to feel like a school, we want it to feel like home," Richland Superintendent Frank Killian said. "Home is where kids want to be. School is where kids have to be. So we want them to be somewhere they want to be."
Killian said they frequently visit other schools to see what works and what they can adapt to their school to make it better.
One thing they found is that many schools don't let the students use their cell phones.
"What we decided, instead of just a policy, is for us to stop being scared of technology and to see how far and see how good our kids become if we embrace technology," Killian said,
"It helps me out a lot because I'll listen to music and I feel like I get more work done," Senior Hunter Walker said. "It just helps me more and I can block out everything else and just get my work done."
This doesn't only include listening to music but texting as well.
"If I have an emergency, I want to be able to text my mom and not have to worry about going to the office and worry about it," Senior Sara Tackett said.
"It helps me reach out to my parents," Walker said. "Right now I'm trying to get into college and my parents are letting me know if a college is looking at me through text message."
Walker also said he believes due to being able to use his phone in class that his grades are better because of it.
Killian said they have a network set up with firewalls that the children connect to. Killian said this way they can't go somewhere on their phone they are not supposed to look at while on school property.
Killian did say this new phone policy had been beneficial in other areas as well.
"Once we implemented this policy, the infractions we had for cell phone violations or cell phone usage have become almost non-existent," Killian added.
Killian also added that they have had zero cases of cell phone theft due to how the phones are always on the student and not locked in a locker or car.
In addition to the cell phones, they also let the students draw on the ceiling tiles.
"This way every time the walk back through the doors, it feels like they are coming back to a small piece of their home," Killian said.
"Because we are here so much we kind of get to know the people," Junior Laura Brown said. "So the ceiling tiles let you kind of get to know the people more so you feel more like a family."
"This works better for me here," Sophomore Skylar Oakley said. "Doing something, I'm able to do it how I want it and not how everybody else wants me to do it."
Brown said it's nice to have the additions to the art to make everything feel more at home and to feel like she is leaving her footprint.
"When the younger kids see this then they will see that was me and so was here instead of me just graduating and not knowing the kids," Brown added. "They can know me through the tiles."
Killian said these along with other adjustments overall help make the atmosphere more conducive for learning.
"It makes it a place kids want to be," Killian said.