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Scholastic Administrator: Tortoise V. Hare

Soon after James Ponce became superintendent of McAllen Independent School District in Texas, in May 2009, he assembled a cadre of educators, students, parents, and businesspeople. “Do we have a 21st-century learning environment?” he asked them. “They responded by saying, for the most part, no,” he says. “I remember one teacher telling me, ‘The ship has left. It’s not even like we can jump on it, it’s so far away from the dock.’ ”

But jump they did. Over the course of a little more than a year, between October 2011 and December 2012, 25,000 iPads were distributed to all students in the district, a delivery that was preceded by infrastructure upgrades, extensive professional development, and other crucial steps. “The mobile device came at the very end,” says Ponce. “It’s not as sexy as the story of a one-to-one.”

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