Schools get technology grant
By Sarah Campbell
SALISBURY ó More students in the Rowan-Salisbury School System will have access to technology this fall thanks to grants from the Blanche and Julian Robertson Family Foundation.
Overton Elementary School has received $55,000 to purchase iPods and laptops for its Overtonville PASSPORT program. PASSPORT stands for Preparing All Students for Success by Participating in an Ongoing Real-world simulation using Technology.
Koontz Elementary has received $59,000, which Principal Rick Dunlap says will be used to install a second computer lab.
Anthony Johnson, the Overtonís technology facilitator, created the PASSPORT program while working as a classroom teacher at Isenberg Elementary about eight years ago.
He started the program with fifth-graders when he moved to Overton.
Johnson said the program allows students to become businesspeople by opening up their own stores, buying goods from suppliers and paying bills such as rent and utilities.
Students learn how to manage money and be responsible with their resources, Johnson said.
ěThey take this and run with it, they kids really learn how to be problem solvers,î he said.
When Johnson first launched the program at Isenberg, he was using shoe boxes and paper money for the simulation, now iPods helps students keep track of spending and planning.
ěThe makeshift stuff was good, but this takes it to a whole different level,î he said.
The grant from the Robertson Family Foundation will extend the program to third-graders.
Johnson said the iPods will also be used for everyday classroom instruction.
ěWhen you give (students) an iPods, they can learn anytime, anywhere,î he said. ěThatís what itís all about, instant information.
Johnson said he was ecstatic to find out Overtonís grant request had been approved.
ěI appreciate the Robertson Family Foundation 200 percent,î he said. ěIîm happy because I know this technology is going to make a difference.î
Koontz Elementary is hoping to have its new computer lab up and running by fall.
Dunlap said heís already found a space near the media center to house the lab, which will be equipped with 30 computers.
Though the school already has one operational computer lab, Dunlap said more computers will be needed as the state transitions to online assessments.
Dunlap said students will also be able to use the lab for research projects and classroom engagement.
He said he was thrilled to find out the Roberton Family Foundation would be giving the school $59,000.
ěAnytime we can get grants to do things such as this itís always a big positive for the students, especially with the way the budget is going.î
Contact reporter Sarah Campbell at 704-797-7683.
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