The enthusiasm was genuine, the smiles unfettered and the happiness could barley be contained for the students in Beth Groom’s eighth grade language arts class at Summit Lakes Middle School.
The joy steamed from the Lee’s Summit Educational Foundation’s official rollout Nov. 15 of the Google Chromebook initiative, the Foundation’s project goal for the 2012-2013 school year.
The objective was to raise $275,000 to purchase Chromebook computers for classroom use in every school in the R-7 district, in addition to providing funding for grants and to support the Foundation’s endowment.
“They’re very fast, and they’re very useful for school purposes,” Cortney Mays, a student at Summit Lakes, said of the efficiency of the Chromebooks. Mays was a willing participant in the official ribbon cutting for the event as he and other students expressed their eagerness to use the computers after a walk through from Groom on how to set up an avatar and profile. “I’m excited that we have new things at our school and that people are so dedicated letting us have our education that they would give their funds and their money that they could be using to us for our education. It will be a very useful tool for us this year.”
The Foundation, which along with the R-7 school district footed the bill to provide a 30-computer mobile Chromebook lab for each elementary, middle and high school in the district, earmarked $200,000 of their campaign goal for the Chromebooks. A total of $360,000 – $200,000 from the Foundation and $160,000 from the district’s instructional budget – is being used for the Chromebooks.
Even a Google rep on hand could sense the enjoyment of the occasion.
“Google is extremely excited about the partnership going on between the two companies,” said Kevin Hodges, an education sales executive with Google who made the trip to Lee’s Summit from Austin, Tex. to take part in the rollout. “Lee’s Summit has grasped the position of where we want to go with technology and we’re excited with the partnership and the next step in this adventure.”
Hazel Grove Elementary School, Summit Lakes and Lee’s Summit North High School were the first recipients of the Chromebooks after taking the lead in the organization’s annual fund drive.
“Our school was very supportive of the Education Foundation so we were able to be one of the first ones to get a cart of Chromebooks,” said David Carlson, principal at Summit Lakes. “What’s surprising is that students are able to use these devices – the devices are so easy that they become invisible and students are able to get right into their work. The technology isn’t a hurdle that they have to work through; it just becomes a tool they can use to develop and create and work with each other.”
The drive also designated $50,000 for the Foundation’s Promoting Excellence and Knowledge grant program. PEAK grants are awarded to teachers across the school district for classroom projects or programs which enhance curriculum.
In addition, $25,000 will go toward the Foundation’s endowment
“We’re fortunate to have good representation here,” Foundation board member Mike Allen said of the rollout. “Just a good collaborative community and a lot of spirit and support of our students and support of our community overall. The success of the community is really the result of the success of the district.”