School PTA Provides Tech Boost
BERLIN — At Ocean City Elementary School (OCES), students will soon have some of the latest technology at their fingertips, thanks to the PTA’s fundraising efforts.
Fifty donated iPads are expected to make it to classrooms next week. They will be used for a variety of lessons, and there are a large number of educational apps available.
“Students will be using them for research,” said OCES Principal Dawn Rogers. “They’ll be using them to be part of a math program that we have this year.”
The devices will also be used to promote typing skills and raise students’ general technological literacy. Sheri Conner, a former PTA president and current educational assistant at OCES, pointed out that the new Common Core Curriculum will include tablet-based learning and testing. Introducing children to that technology early could give them a leg-up when they are older.
“Any way we can help our children succeed and get used to that format, I think that’s where the money should go,” she said.
It was during Conner’s tenure that the PTA decided to fundraise with the goal of providing iPads for OCES. After two years of efforts, the group presented the school with a hefty sum.
“We donated a straight $20,000,” said Kandy Davis, current president of the OCES PTA. “And then the school had a small technology fund where they could put in the remainder of the balance.”
Davis credited the current and alumni parents who dug deep during OCES fundraisers, which totaled about a dozen a year.
“It’s not just the PTA. It’s the parents that donate and come to the events and we are so grateful,” she said. “It makes it easy for someone like me to run a PTA like this because they are just so giving and so generous, and it is definitely important to all of them that these kids have the technology.”
Besides the PTA, other community organizations provided about $5,000 in additional funding for the iPads. It was impressive to see unfold, according to Rogers, who feels that most of the county is acutely aware of how important technology is in schools, even in the youngest grades.
“I look at it as a community step toward digital conversion, a digital step toward preparing our children for college and careers,” she said.
Teachers are “ecstatic” about the new devices, Rogers continued. There will be some brief training before they enter classrooms, but they should be out and operational by next week.
“That digital conversion initiative that’s taking place in our county, this is one step toward that,” she said.
According to Conner, the PTA chose tablets as their fundraising goals because of how easy it is for technology to drop to the bottom of the list of priorities when compared to school renovations and teacher compensation. While those are important and a worthy use of public funding, Conner felt that it is up to the community to make sure technology is a focus.
“That’s one place where there is a constant fight for funding,” she said.
The first set of 50 iPads will be rotated among third- and fourth-grade students to start. The tablets came with all of the necessary support devices including carts and Mac Books that will serve as a network point for all of the devices.
The PTA’s goal is to add another cart of 25 iPads to the school every year moving forward.
“Hopefully, we can donate a cart each year. We were able to do two this year and on each cart come 25 tablets,” said Davis. “So hopefully we can donate a cart each year. The goal would be so that every kind in Ocean City Elementary School has a tablet in their hand.”
Rogers, Conner and Davis all made a point to stress the school’s appreciation to all who donated. It shows that “our hearts are with our students in preparing them for the future,” Rogers said.