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Making a Difference: LaTonya Rowe

21st Century Classroom

LaTonya Rowe’s classroom is a busy place, where students work individually, in small groups, with paper and pencil, and with screens big and small. But it’s an organized place, where Rowe, a Johnson County native who comes from a family of teachers, has looked at the explosion of technology that’s occurred in the past 10 years and seized upon ingenious ways to apply it to her everyday instruction.

“I often dream of being the ‘great and powerful Oz’ and giving my students the wisdom to utilize their brain to retain as much information as possible,” said LaTonya Rowe, who teaches fourth grade at Highland Elementary.

“I always stress the importance of having a heart for learning and striving to learn something new each and every day.”

Every teacher dreams of the places they could take their students if only they had the equipment and the means. I envision computer programming, development of apps, creating modes, project-based learning, and more. – LaTonya Rowe

In 2014 Rowe was named a PBS Digital Innovator in recognition of her efforts to harness technology and, like the Wizard of Oz, help her students discover and learn in exponentially new ways.

“I often joke if I had one more of me I could accomplish so much in my room,” she said.

And thanks to technology, she does. Rowe has found ways to use podcasts, QR codes, and a variety of educational software to keep parents informed, pre-record instruction so that kids can view it either at school or at home—and even give students a virtual ride-along with her brother, Tracy Taylor, a social studies teacher turned trucker, right into her classroom.

“I like to introduce something and let the kids just run with it,” Rowe said. “If they’re interested in it, they learn a greater amount of information than I could ever just put out there for them.”

Rowe’s long association with KET has supplemented her interest in using technology in the classroom. Like most educators in Kentucky, she makes frequent use of KET EncycloMedia to access videos and lesson plans to introduce or enhance her lessons. And like many a teacher in remote locations, she takes advantage of KET’s professional development resources to get needed training without expensive travel.

Most recently, Rowe accessed KET’s expertise to launch a student broadcast club, which produces “week in review” videos including student interviews requiring shooting, editing, and other technical skills.

“Every teacher dreams of the places they could take their students if only they had the equipment and the means,” said Rowe. “I envision computer programming, development of apps, creating modes, project-based learning, and more. I am building a classroom that will entice and awaken the digital innovator hidden inside each of my 72 students,” she said.

“The possibilities are endless!”