Watch Party: BBC Short Film Spotlights Verizon’s Tech Program at Irving School

Verizon's Innovative Learning program at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving, Texas, is featured in BBC's new video series "The Human Component," highlighting technology's role in education. See the gallery, and watch the video.

Lady Bird Johnson Middle School in Irving is in the spotlight thanks to a BBC video series, “The Human Component,” which showcases Verizon’s Innovative Learning program. The documentary follows teacher Patrick Yates and his seventh- and eighth-grade students as they leverage technology to address real-world problems.

Students at the school engage in projects ranging from designing smart glasses to aid international students in overcoming language barriers to creating educational video games that teach coding and design principles. As one student said in the documentary, “The technology that we have is crazy. I look around the room, just tech everywhere. I have the world at my fingertips.”

BBC series features Irving middle school

Verizon said BBC’s editorial team selected a mix of companies, non-profits, and NGOs to be featured in the “Human Component” video series. The short film on the Verizon Innovative Learning program at the school explores how a tech-focused learning environment enhances education in underserved communities and fosters future innovation.

A standout feature of the program is its immersive tech curriculum, integrated across all subjects. As one program leader noted in the film, “We build labs in those schools and make sure that the kids can walk into environments where they can do immersive learning.”

Some kids may expect the program to be mainly about engineering and coding, “but it’s always more than that,” a student commented in the film. Using technology ranging from augmented reality to 3D printing, they can tackle issues ranging from climate change to education equity

For many kids, the program has been a transformative experience. “Because of this class, it made me really want to do robotics in high school. So it made me think about my future,” said a student in the film.

Building confidence and leadership

The program also empowers students to see themselves as leaders and innovators. “I analyze things more clearly. I really break it down and truly get to know what it really means,” said a student who has taken on a project manager role in a team developing smart glasses.

Another important aspect of the program is its focus on inclusivity and peer-to-peer support for non-English speaking students. “The whole purpose of this activity is to design smart devices to assist individuals with a language barrier,” explained a teacher in the film.

Students are encouraged to collaborate and innovate, creating solutions such as the smart glasses that help bridge educational gaps for international students. A student shared, “The thing I’m most proud of is that I get to help my friends who don’t speak English to understand the class.”

Community impact and ambitious goals

As another student summed up in the film, “Before this class, I never really thought of myself as a leader.” According to the leaders featured in the series, the impact of the Verizon Innovative Learning Program benefits individual students and the wider community.

Since its inception, Verizon Innovative Learning has provided over seven million students nationwide with access to technology and digital skills training. The program equips schools with tablets, free internet access, and immersive curriculums that include emerging technologies such as 5G, AR, and VR.

“We adopt middle schools and some high schools, where at least 65% of the kids qualify for free and reduced lunch. Those students get access to a device and to connectivity 24/7,” said a program leader in the film. By providing students with the necessary tools and knowledge, the program opens a world of opportunities, helping to bridge the digital divide.

Looking ahead, Verizon aims to reach 10 million students by 2030. A company representative emphasized their commitment: “We have an obligation as a company to ensure that we—every single day—do our part to use our technology and our resources to enable success.”

Private screening in Irving

Michelle Miller, Ryan T. Higgins, James Tiggeman, and Patrick Yates [Photo: Verizon]

To celebrate the documentary, Verizon recently hosted a private screening at its Hidden Ridge Auditorium in Irving. The event brought together key figures from Lady Bird Johnson Middle School, Irving ISD, and the broader Irving-Las Colinas community.

A panel discussion followed, featuring insights from education leaders and Verizon executives on the program’s impact and the importance of nurturing future leaders.

James Tiggerman, director of STEM and innovation at Irving ISD, and Patrick Yates, the Verizon innovative learning teacher at Lady Bird Johnson Middle School, joined Michelle Miller, Verizon’s SVP and coastal plains market president, who also serves as the Dallas Regional Chamber Chair of the Tech Policy Task Force, and Ryan T. Higgins, Verizon’s senior manager of corporate social responsibility, for a conversation.

Miller said the Verizon team is incredibly proud to see the impact of the Verizon Innovative Learning program in the community. “We are inspired knowing that Irving ISD students are getting the foundation that they need to be the creative, strategic thinkers and leaders of our future world,” Miller said during the event. 

The panelists provided insights into the experience of working with students in the program and the importance of developing the next generation of leaders.

Where to watch

The “Human Component” series, including Verizon’s Innovative Learning program at Irving’s Lady Bird Johnson Middle School, is now available on The platform is part of BBC Storyworks, a commercial creative studio.

Watch Verizon’s short video here

Behind the scenes at the Irving documentary screening.

Rick Stopfer, Mayor of Irving, spoke to the crowd at the Verizon watch party. [Photo: Verizon]

Michelle Miller, Ryan T. Higgins, James Tiggeman, and Patrick Yates [Photo: Verizon]

Attendees at the watch party [Photo: Verizon]

Patrick Yates and Michelle Miller with Lady Bird Johnson Middle School Students [Photo: Verizon]

Ryan T. Higgins, Michelle Miller, James Tiggeman, Patrick Yates, D’Andre Weaver [Photo: Verizon]

Michelle Miller, SVP and Market President for Verizon and Dallas Regional Chamber Chair of the Tech Policy Task Force [Photo: Verizon]

[Photo: Verizon]

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