Shullsburg School District has been busy getting ready for the 2013-2014 school year which started on Tuesday, Sept. 3, but there is something extra that the school has been preparing for this year as well.
In June, Shullsburg School District received a Wisconsin Technology Initiative grant in the amount of $75,000. The grant is meant to be used to help reduce the financial barriers of integrating instructional technology into the classroom.
The grant money has been used to purchase 22 additional smartboards for the Shullsburg School District. According to Melissa Emler, Shullsburg principal, there is now a smartboard in every classroom in the district.
“One of our goals is to increase engagement through student interaction,” said Emler. It seemed fitting that we use the grant to purchase smartboard technology as “we’re trying to improve our technology in this school, explained Emler.
Emler explained how the school district partnered with InfoCor, a company that provides technology solutions and training for educators, for this grant. “The InfoCor team reached out to us in the middle of March and said the grant was available and focusing on schools in southwest Wisconsin,” said Emler.
That was when Emler, along with Shullsburg’s Agriculture teacher, Tracy Brunton and Shullsburg’s technology coordinator, Karen Hoppman started working on writing the grant application, which took them many hours to complete.
Then in June when they discovered that they had received the grant, the district decided to send two staff members to become certified trainers in smartboard technology.
The summer was spent getting the computers set up and ready to go with the new technology. Then on Wednesday, August 28 the entire staff was busy in workshops with instructors, learning how to use the new smartboards.
The staff must have 30 hours of training in the next two years in smart technology, explained Emler. So as part of that, for the upcoming school year Shullsburg will be working with Pecatonica , Riverdale and Mineral Point School Districts, who were also recipients of this grant, in order to offer free trainings.
Part of the grant required Shullsburg School District to provide a 10 percent match of the grant amount. This prompted the purchase of new laptops for two-thirds of the district’s staff for this year. The remaining one-third of the staff who are currently using older laptops will get new ones next year as well.
The Wisconsin Technology Initiative was established in 2010 by John P. and Tashia F. Morgridge to improve academic achievement by providing funding for the advancement of instructional technology in learning environments throughout the state of Wisconsin.
In addition to the technology grant, Shullsburg was also invited to participate in another project that Tashia Morgridge is starting.
The program is a partnering with booktrust.org in which all students in grades PreK-3rd will be able to spend $7 on scholastic book orders every month for 10 months each year at no cost to parents.
“We were invited because of our connection with the WTI grant and because of our large number of free and reduced eligible students in the district,” said Emler.
This program will definitely happen this year and will go on into the foreseeable future, according to Emler.