Next year, 75 third-grade students at Harrison Elementary School will be able to chat with teachers after school hours, check out library books from home, complete tutorials to get ahead and share virtual notes between their parents and teachers.
All this is thanks to the new iPad each student will receive — and be able to take home all year — made possible by nonprofits D9 and UnifiEd. The organizations made the surprise announcement to students and teachers at the school last week, after raising the necessary $40,000 through partial grant funding and donations.
"It is just so critical that students are able to read on grade level by third grade," said Harrison Principal Wendy Jung. "We are just so thrilled."
iPads may not seem like the game changer needed for a third-grade class, but teachers at Harrison know all too well how difficult communication, both with students and their parents, can otherwise be.
Students who don't have a ride home if they stay after class for tutoring, for example, will be able to utilize virtual Skype tutoring sessions with their teachers during approved times. Teachers will be able to send virtual notes for parents to read, rather than a piece of paper that can be misplaced or forgotten. And every student will have access to an entire library with the touch of a button, from the comfort of their couch.
"It's going to be a whole new way of reaching kids and closing that gap in achievement," said Jung, noting that while some of those options currently exist, the school doesn't have enough technology for all the kids to take full advantage. "This is going to be a whole new wave here. We've been technology bereft for some time. This changes everything."
To find out more about D9 and how to offer support, visit d9strong.com.
To find out more about UnifiEd and how to get involved, visit unifi-ed.org.
Email Gabrielle Chevalier at firstname.lastname@example.org.