Grants kindle tech initiatives at Summit schools
Ryan Summerlin December 19, 2012
The Summit Education Foundation recently awarded 12 grants to area schools. The Eileen Finkel Innovative Teaching Awards will provide funding for various educational projects, many of which involve technology.
“The foundation has been very generous with supporting technology in the schools,” said Jaimee Borger, public relations officer for the Summit School District.
Borger explained that funding from the school district often focuses on district-wide initiatives, making it more difficult to receive funding for individual school or classroom projects.
“(There are) great ideas,” Borger said, “It’s just the resources aren’t always available to do that. We are so fortunate to have foundations like the Summit Education Foundation step in.”
Summit High School, Summit Cove Elementary and Upper Blue Elementary received grants for $1,000, $750 and $575 respectively and will be adding Kindles to their library selection.
Shelly Wasson, media specialist at Summit Cove, said the Kindles will be an attempt to draw in the more reluctant readers.
“That really is our hope,” she said. “We’re just trying different things. We know (by) the way kids treat the iPads that they love them.”
The iPads at Summit Cove are loaded with educational applications, including a few books. These have interactive components, but are mainly geared toward younger children. Wasson hopes that with the Kindle there will be more options for older students.
Does she think that electronic readers like Kindles will take the place of traditional print books?
“I hope not. I’m a librarian and I love the e-readers, and I feel like they’re definitely different, (but) it’s nice to put those electronics down and pick up a real book,” she said. “I really see this as an extension to the whole and not a replacement.”
Another beneficiary of the grants is Frisco Elementary’s S.T.E.M. Lab. S.T.E.M. stands for science, technology, engineering and math, all subjects which the school prides itself on. The $2,500 grant will be used to enhance what the elementary already has in place – the facilities of its science lab and the buddies program, which pairs fifth-grade mentors with kindergarten students.
“We are working on those 21st century skills that kids are going to have to have,” said Frisco principal Renea Hill. “Also, these types of activities are good for critical thinking, for that deeper level of thinking that students will need for their jobs in the future.”
The buddies program initially started off as a reading program and has now evolved into other subjects, particularly science.
“It just creates a nice community bond,” said Hill. “Now the fifth graders are actually teaching them something.”
Other grants include $300 for portable MP3 players for digital learning centers for first grade at Summit Cove Elementary; $1,000 for guest author visits at Dillon Elementary; $800 for shared iPads at Silverthorne Elementary; $300 for the Breckenridge Elementary third-grade overnight trip to the Plains Conservation Center; $2,500 for equipment for Summit Cove’s “Cross-Fit for Kids” pilot program; $1,000 for transportation funding for the Summit County “Girls on the Run” program; $1,000 for a plate tectonics map and globe for all seventh-grade science classes at Summit Middle School; and $1,000 for transportation for school nurses to CNA Clinicals in Denver.
In addition to the grants, four schools also received state awards. Summit Cove and Upper Blue received the John Irwin award, which is given to schools that exceed expectations in academic achievement and meet or exceed expectations of academic growth gaps.
Dillon Valley and Breckenridge elementaries were awarded the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement award for exceeding expectations of academic growth and meeting or exceeding expectations related to academic growth gaps.
“For us to have four of our nine (schools) is great,” said Borger. “We’re very excited that the schools have accomplished this goal and the students are being recognized for doing outstanding performances.”