SMCHS Recognized as Global Leader in Educational Technology

For the fourth consecutive year, Santa Margarita Catholic High School has been named a Microsoft Showcase School for successfully integrating Tablet PC and cloud technology to deliver a more personalized education to students better preparing them for success in college and the workplace. SMCHS joins an elite community of approximately 550 school worldwide recognized for their pioneering efforts and innovation in teaching, learning and assessment. Santa Margarita is the only school in Orange County to receive this designation, just one of three schools in the state and one of 32 in the nation.

At SMCHS, Microsoft Office 365 applications including OneNote have been successfully integrated into everyday learning. Students can take and file notes in digital notebooks, virtually collaborate with their teachers and classmates through shared workspaces, quickly access e-books and much more all through the use of their tablet. 

“We are proud of our partnership with Microsoft and the immersive learning experience we are providing our students,” said Principal Ray Dunne. “At Santa Margarita, we are committed to continuing to provide innovative ways to prepare our students for college and beyond.”

Santa Margarita Catholic High School and Microsoft began working together on this specific venture five years ago prior to SMCHS fully implementing a one-to-one tablet PC program during the 2014-15 school year, putting a Lenovo Thinkpad Yoga tablet PC in the hands of every teacher and student.

“I love that you can digitally organize all of your notebooks and you don’t have to dig through your pencil case for a highlighter,” said freshman Jillian Surdilla. “With a click of the button, you can highlight text.”

Surdilla says having the tablet keeps her organized. “Everything is right there at your fingertips,” she said.

Senior Allyssa Lopez said the tablet makes it easy to stay organized and allows her to stay connected to teachers and classmates after school. Through a shared workspace in Microsoft OneNote, students can ask their teachers questions, share ideas and easily reference class assignments and deadlines.

“Having the tablet has allowed me to be more efficient,” she said. “With OneNote I don’t have to carry around seven different notebooks. Everything is in one place.”

Through an extensive application process, Showcase Schools must exemplify leadership in leveraging digital technology, deliver professional development for staff to effectively integrate digital learning, thoughtfully integrate a digital education across the curriculum with a focus on personalized learning, and utilize Microsoft technologies among other criteria. Schools are recognized for creating immersive and inclusive educational experiences that inspire lifelong learning and stimulate the development of essential life skills to empower students. As a Showcase School, Santa Margarita works closely with Microsoft to lead innovation in education and communicate a vision for education enabled by technology through the hosting and mentoring of other schools in the community on transformational educational practices.

The program also provides Santa Margarita with the opportunity to collaborate with an international group of thought leaders and access to exclusive professional development opportunities. In addition, each year SMCHS hosts approximately ten public and private schools from around Southern California for individual visits, helping to shape how those schools implement technology on their campuses and in their districts.

“We are honored and proud to be a part of Microsoft’s Showcase School community once again and it’s exciting to know that our hard work, dedication and energy are all being recognized,” said Director of Educational Technology Scott Bricker. “Not only are we totally recreating what it means to be a student at SMCHS in a positive way, but we are also afforded the opportunity to give direct feedback to companies to affect significant, positive change in the EdTech world and also share our experiences with other educators, schools and districts around the world. It is such an exciting time to be in education and we could not be more thrilled to be at the forefront of this movement.”