PLAINFIELD, N.J. (CBSNewYork)Smart phones can be extremely distracting for students in class.

One Union County principal is taking a unique approach to get kids more focused on school, and less on their phones.

Raniyah Algoo is an eighth grader at Maxson Middle School in Plainfield. She says her cell phone would constantly buzz with notifications while she was in class, giving her major anxiety and taking her away from her studies.

“Instagram, posted something on Snapchat,” she explained to CBS2’s Meg Baker.

Well, that doesn’t happen anymore, thanks to Principal Keven Stansbury’s idea to give every student a Yondr case. Every morning in homeroom, students pick up their case, turn their cell phone off, and lock it inside. They get to keep the case on them and unlock it at the end of the day. The case is also used by some entertainers at shows.

“Problem is our school academically is challenged. There are host of reasons why. I didn’t any additional problem, and that’s what we were experiencing with the phones,” said Stansbury.

He says there was some phone separation anxiety at first, but most have learned to embrace it.

“I went up to him and I said ‘Hey, I really like your idea,'” said eighth grader Leo Longhi.

“I think when at home, put it down, read a book, because that’s what I’ve been doing all day,” said eighth grader Angelina Almonte.

In the eighth grade science class, the teacher says the students are less distracted and working better together on their projects.

“Without phones, everyone is engaged, everyone’s participating, instead of two people. You hear conversations bouncing off each other, probably never would have talked to that person,” said teacher Nia Cummings.

Desiree Durante says she learns a lot more in class without sneaking a peak at her phone.

“I actually had long conversations today, especially at lunch. I never knew we could talk so much! Usually, listening to music, watching YouTube. Today it was jokes, chilling at the table, laughing, taking about class. It’s more interesting than staring at a screen all day,” she said.

Parents are reminded to call the main office to get in touch with their children. The cases do come apart with a little force, in case of an emergency inside the school.

Stansbury said it is “absolutely” teaching children to live in the moment. He says kids were so occupied with their phones, they were missing out on real life. He says communication and school participation instantly improved.

The pouches cost the school about $15 per student. With 750 students at Maxson, more than $11,000 for the lease.

If expanded to other schools in the district, the price will go down to $10 per student.


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