Sharon Springs Central School seventh-graders will be traveling to classrooms around the world in the fall, thanks to the internet and a HP Technology for Teaching grant worth $38,000.
SSCS is one of just 110 K-12 public schools nationwide to receive the grant, awarded on the basis of a 15-page application that nearly a dozen teachers, administrators and staff, working with English teacher Tom Yorke, had a hand in.
“We’re always hearing about grant opportunities, but most of them—like the Hewlett Packard grant—are really competitive,” said Superintendent Pat Green.
“We apply for the ones we think we have a reasonably good chance of getting, but you always wonder if it’s worth the time involved. Without a doubt, this time it was.”
Awarding of the HP grant wasn’t based on need, but rather on the project the school submitted.
The package includes five each Tablet PCs with software, multimedia projectors, HP digital cameras, HP Officejet printer/scanner/copiers, and a $500 cash award each for five SSCS teachers.
It also includes teacher online training and this year, HP is also providing grant recipients with an HP Designjet large-format printer.
SSCS is the only school in the greater capital District to receive a 2008 grant; Mr. Green said they’ve already received the equipment but have been waiting till end-of-year exams are over to open it.
“We apply for a couple of grants a year, but receiving something like this, it’s definitely not a yearly occurrence,” he said.
Mr. Yorke said he offered to spearhead the application process after SSCS received a mass email sent to all schools by HP.
“What we had to do was come up with a plan to incorporate technology into the classrooms of five teachers,” he explained. “In the end, we called it, ‘Connecting to the World…” and one of the things we’ll be doing with it is communicating with classes around the world.”
If SSCS makes good use of the money, chances are there will be more money from HP next year, Mr. Yorke said, allowing the district to grow the project.
But starting in the fall, it will be the seventh-graders who’ll be doing things like discussing literature and current events with fellow students in other countries for their English and history classes respectively.
In math and science they’ll be using the HP package to work on things like proportions and probability; in art they’ll work on multicultural art projects involving taking and scanning pictures, Mr. Yorke said.
“I’m really happy with the way it all came together,” he added. “Even the teachers who weren’t directly involved were willing to help me understand their curriculums to make the application work. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it.”