Most of us have experienced periods where we must tighten our belts in order to afford the essentials. When that isn’t possible, it’s great to have a generous benefactor. Warren Elementary’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) recently stepped up to save the day, donating close to $35,000 in order to purchase necessary technology for the school and its students. The money was raised during the school year through a variety of fundraisers, including dine-and-donate events (at several local businesses), a color run, rummage sales, etc. The PTO built up a reserve during the year, in anticipation of one large donation instead of several smaller ones.
Warren PTO President Katie Bange, who teaches at Francis Howell High School, said “Warren has over 800 students that are being educated on a daily basis by an amazing staff. We have had such an overwhelming response by parents, teachers, and students acknowledging their gratefulness for this purchase. One class even wrote a thank you letter signed by all of the students. It warms our hearts to know we have made a difference in the classroom activities that our teachers will be able to implement because of the increased technology.”
Google Chromebooks are needed for state-mandated online tests, and Warren’s PTO did whatever it took to give their students the best chance for success. “As our school population grows,” Warren’s Principal Intern Megan Beckham said, “we need more and more devices to help accommodate all of our students. When we started to look at scheduling MAP testing, we knew we wouldn’t be able to create an ideal schedule without more technology.”
“At a recent PTO meeting we were fortunate enough to be able to approve the purchase of four Google Chromebook carts,” Bange said, “which include 120 Chromebooks. Our principals came to us originally asking for 60 Chromebooks and two carts, but we felt it was important to increase the technology students at Warren have access to on a day-to-day basis, to prepare them to be 21st century learners. By adding these, Warren is less dependent on other schools to borrow carts.”
It’s not just about testing, but also about developing students’ technology skills. “We want to have enough devices to ensure students have the opportunity to access technology,” Beckham said, “so that we can continue to develop the skills necessary to succeed in this digital age.” For example, these devices can be used to improve skills like coding (click here to see a video about coding in FHSD) and digital literacy.
The Warren PTO and FHSD Technology Department worked together to get the best value, and to get the Chromebooks into the hands of students as quickly as possible. “(FHSD Technology Service Manager) Jason Adams was instrumental in this process,” Beckham said. “He kept me updated every step of the way, and notified us that they have already arrived and will be in our building before we start MAP testing.”
Adams said, “I think the real story is the PTO in this situation, given the amount of money they donated to the school. MAP testing is incredibly stressful on not only the teachers but also the students. Having the additional technology at their disposal made it easier for them to create a testing schedule that worked well for their kids, as opposed to being given a schedule based on device availability.”
Bange said, “None of this would be happening without the continued support of Warren’s principals, teachers, staff, and parents. It is because of their hard work and efforts to help fundraise that made this purchase possible.”