WILDER, Idaho -- A rural Canyon County school district is placing technology in the hands of every student.
A grant from Apple's ConnectED program allowed administrators to distribute iPads to the roughly 470 students who go to school in Wilder.
The devices were handed out Wednesday morning to students in Wilder's elementary and combined middle-high school.
Teachers are already predicting it's going to be a game-changer in the cash-strapped district where more than 90 percent of students qualified for free or reduced lunch last year.
"What it's going to do is not only give them the tool that can bring the world to them, we're also changing the way we teach our kids," said Jennifer Tuttle, who teaches technology to sixth-through-12th-graders at Wilder Middle High.
She said the iPads will be the key to individualized teaching plans for each student that lets them learn at their own speed both inside the classroom and after the doors of the school have shut behind them.
Between 40 and 60 percent of students in the district don't have access to the Internet at home. That makes it tough to finish homework or find information for a research paper outside of school hours, Tuttle said.
But the iPads - which go home with each student at the end of the day - can connect to the Internet, even if parents' homes aren't set up with WiFi.
"Our whole community now, wherever they take their iPads, they have WiFi," Tuttle said. "Before, they were kind of closed off to the world - if they didn't have WiFi at home, they couldn't do their homework, they couldn't do research, they didn't have access to these kind of tools before."
Wilder Elementary and Wilder Middle-High School are the only two schools in Idaho to receive the Apple ConnectED grant. Only 114 schools were selected nationwide.
Superintendent Jeff Dillon says the schools will start using the iPads right away, and will ramp up again in the fall.
"The kids are very excited about the opportunity to have the devices in their hands," Dillon said.
Teachers in Wilder School District also receive equipment and training as part of the grant. But Dillon said he hoped the program would push students to take ownership of their own progress.
"Students will drive the learning, and we won't hold them back as adults. We have to pull off the 'I know it all' and allow kids to develop that path and that passion for learning, and when we do that, who knows what they can accomplish?" he said. "It's going to be amazing."