New artificial intelligence earbuds are the latest learning tool in the Morgan County Schools system. They are used to translate lessons for students in real time from English to a variety of languages.
Savannah Chenault teaches seventh-grade English and reading at Danville Middle School.
"When you see a need, you want to try and fill the gaps," Chenault said.
Helping students is all Chenault does. She's been teaching at Danville Middle for nearly a decade. That means hundreds — if not thousands — of Morgan County students have been in her classroom. But this year, a new problem arose, something Chenault had not had to deal with at length before.
"We have a couple in eighth grade and sixth grade who speak no English," Chenault said. "So, I thought it would help the teachers at the beginning of the year who were frustrated and shocked like, 'What do we do? We can't communicate with these students.'"
The school has always had English-language learners enrolled, but that number is rising. Chenault said these students deserve the same education an English-speaking student would get.
"It's our job as educators to be able to provide students with equal access and a design for education that everyone has the same opportunities," Chenault said.
The teachers wears one earbud while the student wears the other. In real time, as the teacher gives a lesson, what they're saying is translated in the student's ear.
Chenault said Danville Middle uses them primarily to translate English to Spanish, but the technology isn't limited to that. There are 40 languages to choose from and 93 accents available, ensuring no child is left behind.
"It documents and transcribes as well, so it's not only for auditory learners but for visual learners as well," Chenault said.
These devices didn't cost Danville Middle a dime. Chenault was awarded a $2,600 grant from a local company to get the translators. The school now has 14 pairs ready to help students learn.
Morgan County Schools has translators on staff. However, Chenault said, these earbuds ensure students will never be without the assistance they need.