Millbridge wins technology sweepstakes

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 17, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin
It was in early January when Millbridge Elementary teacher Tamara Jones heard about the seventh annual Win a Wireless Lab sweepstakes by CDW Government and Discovery Education in an e-mail from Maruca Scruggs, media specialist at the school.
Scruggs had forwarded the e-mail from Kelly Feimster, director of media and the Academically and Intellectually Gifted (AIG) program for the Rowan-Salisbury School System, to all the teachers at Millbridge.
Jones, who has taught first grade at the school since it opened five years ago, logged onto the Web site and registered for the sweepstakes, sending in entries five to six times a week. The link had an icon on it that said “Enter to Win,” she said, “and it was like a button.”
Because her information was already recorded, Jones only had to hit the button for her entries to go through. “It took about 15 seconds,” she said.
Jones sent in 40 to 50 daily entries through about mid-April, when she said she thought the contest had ended. She didn’t think any more about it until she received a voice mail in May from Kerree Wolf of CDW-G saying she was trying to get in touch with her about a wireless lab.
” ‘This is crazy,’ ” she recalled thinking. ” ‘Someone is saying that I won something.’ I had forgotten all about it.”
When she returned the call to Wolf, she informed Jones that she had won the wireless lab for Millbridge Elementary. The school was one of five chosen from 702,000 entries.
Jones said she couldn’t believe it. “I was like, ‘Really? Are you sure?’ ” she said, “because I had never won anything before, maybe small things, but not a $50,000 prize. And the great thing is it’s for the kids. It’s for our students here at Millbridge.”
With the current economic difficulties, Jones said “there’s not a lot of extra money for technological things, so this is wonderful for our school and our students because we’re getting $50,000 of free technology to support what we already have.”
Principal David Miller said the school was blessed to receive the lab. “We’ll be able to add technology to enhance the 21st Century skills in our classrooms,” he said. “We’re just very excited.”
Feimster, who sent out the original e-mail about the Win a Wireless Lab sweepstakes, said she also had difficulty believing it when she heard the news that Millbridge had won and said she didn’t even remember forwarding the e-mail because it has been so long ago. “They had thousands of entries,” she said. “It was just amazing.”
The wireless lab, which will be stationed in the school media center for teachers to check out, includes 20 Lenovo wireless tablet notebook personal computers; three Netgear wireless access points; a Bretford wireless cart; Promethean Activboard and ActivExpression voting devices; Epson Powerlite projector; AverMedia document camera and Sony handycam camcorder; and Epson inkjet printer.
Also included is a $5,000 Discovery Education software grant, including Discovery hard copy CD-ROMS and Discovery Education Streaming Plus and on-site training from CDW-G and Discovery Education.
Jones said the school spent $2,500 of the grant on the Discovery Streaming, from which teachers can download more than 130,000 different sites, and the other $2,500 on DVDs that support the curricula.
“We bought a lot on animals and their characteristics and their habitats,” she said, “and we bought things on rocks and minerals.” Jones said the school also picked out math DVDs aimed at different grade levels.
Representatives from CDW-G, a leading provider of technology solutions for educational institutions of all levels, and Discovery Education, a division of Discovery Communications, were at Millbridge Tuesday to train students and teachers on how to use the wireless lab.
Isaac Bruce of CDW-G and Justin Karkow of Discovery Education’s Charlotte office did the on-site teacher training. Kerree Wolf of CDW-G was also at the school.
The 702,000 entries in the 2009 Win a Wireless Lab sweepstakes were up tremendously from the 180,000 who entered in 2008, according to Bob Kirby, vice president for K-12 education, CDW-G.
“This year’s contest was the most expansive in its history and exceeded all expectations,” he said. “Educators understand how technology can facilitate learning, but budget challenges are keeping them from making it a reality in every classroom.
“Win a Wireless Lab can help fill that gap.”
The sweepstakes is a partnership between CDW-G and Discovery Education to help K-12 schools across the country easily and effectively integrate technology resources into the curriculum every day.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.