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Empowering Local School Systems with High-Speed Internet


As Manager of Community Engagement at United Communications, I am doing what I love: engaging with community partners and supporting community needs through sponsorships. One of the ways we’ve made a significant difference in our state is by helping local school districts access enhanced internet services. When United Communications brings the internet to a school district, students, teachers, and administrators can all benefit.

For many rural school districts, access to reliable internet can be spotty and the effects of unreliable internet on students can be significant. Without reliable internet, access to academic resources could be interrupted, and college readiness, scholarship access, and college acceptance rates can all be affected.

How High-Speed Internet Can Transform Learning

I’ve seen high-speed internet transform a learning community, and nowhere is that more profound than in the Marshall County School system, a school district that directly benefited from the internet expansion made possible through Project UNITE

Marshall County Director of Schools Jacob Sorrels spoke with me about the impact expanded internet access has had for his students, and I wanted to share what he’s noticed: 

“Enhanced internet access allows our teachers to further our students’ education and push them in areas where maybe they weren’t able to before.  And those students can own their own learning, too… it opens doors for students.”

Jacob also explained how a lack of internet access could deter students who want to go above and beyond the traditional curriculum. When students want to take a college course while in high school or apply for dual enrollment at a community college, they usually must have excellent internet to access these additional courses. Even something as essential as filling out the FAFSA form for college funding and scholarships can be compromised by a lack of internet. Slow loading times or shaky connections could affect a student’s ability to submit paperwork easily or on time. College interviews, which may take place through video calls, may also be affected by sub-par internet. It can be challenging for admissions officers to get to know a student through a grainy video feed and interrupted answers. 

Facilitating Education for Students

Enhanced connectivity makes a difference when it comes to homework completion too. Without consistent internet access at home, some students may have to do their homework in the parking lot of McDonald’s or Walmart.

When I asked Jacob about internet connectivity, he gave me an example of a student completing math homework. While he explained it, he spoke from the student’s perspective: “I may not be able to do this trig problem or this calculus problem, and I didn’t understand it in class today. Let me Google that. There’s going to be an online video that shows me how to do that.” In this way, students can seek out resources that support their learning process. As Jacob put it, “There’s so much on the internet — I can learn and teach myself a lot.”  

Supporting Local Students Through Local Internet

Above all else, United Communications is a local telecommunications company committed to improving the lives of our neighbors and friends right here in Middle Tennessee. Our children attend the same schools that our customers do, and we frequent the same locations. A win for the local school districts is also a win for us, as we hire directly from our community to fill positions at our company. We not only provide a valuable service — we support the communities we serve. That’s a philosophy I’m proud to represent. 

Author Bio:

Dawn Hobbs

Manager of Community Engagement

Dawn Hobbs is the Manager of Community Engagement at United Communications. She works hand-in-hand with local governments, chambers of commerce, and school districts to expand internet access for these organizations. She has over ten years of experience working with nonprofits and local government entities to conceive and build initiatives that transform the daily lives of citizens. Prior to her work with United Communications, Dawn served as the Executive Director for United Way of Bedford County.