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Huntsman hands out iPads in N.H., pitches Utah company

Published January 6, 2012 12:40 pm

Education • Former Utah governor praises what he says is 'classroom of the future.'
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Pembroke, N.H. • Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman handed out iPads on Tuesday morning, not to prospective voters in this crucial primary state but to prospective engineers, teachers and astronomers.

Huntsman, in a detour from the presidential race, greeted elementary school students on Tuesday to deliver the electronic devices as part of the Strong Foundations Charter School's transition to an iSchool, a technology-centric curriculum that's the brainchild of a Utah company.

The New Hampshire elementary became the seventh such iSchool in the nation, a move that the Park City company chairman, Tom Pitcher, credits to Huntsman's effort as governor to help incubate high-tech progress in the state and push charter schools as an alternative to the typical education model.

"His role as governor really paved the way for this," Pitcher said.

Huntsman kept his remarks mainly focused on the importance of education and not about his White House campaign, though he still dropped a hint that iSchool was a great model.

"I think we're getting a good look at what the classroom of the future will look like," Huntsman said.

iSchool blends school curriculum around a high-tech learning environment with each child receiving a new iPad and learning from teachers trained to explore subjects with the new technology.

Huntsman's long-time top adviser, Neil Ashdown, is now president of iSchool, which gets its funding from private investors and which hopes to expand its program to schools across the nation.

Though Tuesday's event was paid for by the company as the grand opening of the transitioned school, Pitcher heaped praise on Huntsman in front of dozens of students and a few teachers and local residents.

"You've just heard from a born leader," Pitcher said.

With a nod to the "soccer moms" that became a courted population in the 1996 election, Pitcher said that he now believes there's a new category he dubbed the "iPad moms."

"This is the start of the iPad moms that will carry Governor Huntsman to the White House," he told a classroom of kids.

tburr@sltrib.com