Nov 13, 2020
More than 200 students in Caldwell County are getting a technological boost this week thanks to a shipment of Chromebooks purchased by the Education Foundation and given to middle and high school students around the county.
Ben Willis, director of the Education Foundation Inc. of Caldwell County, visited area schools Friday morning to make the first batch of deliveries to students and principals. Due to the high demand for laptops and other devices caused by widespread remote learning around the world, it was a long time between placing the order and making the deliveries, Willis said.
‘We put this order in back in March, right as the backlog caused by the pandemic was just getting started,” he said. “I think that shows you how great the need is for schools everywhere. The only reason we have them is because we placed the order so early.”
Willis said that students were identified by administrators, school social workers and teachers as being in need of devices, but there were also laptops given to students who participated in ONE Youth Leadership, a program for eight-graders that connects them with local industry and civic leaders.
While making deliveries to schools, Willis spoke with teachers and administrators about other ways that the Education Foundation can be more involved with helping families who are affected by COVID-19, whether emotionally, academically or financially. The devices are one small step to address a specific problem, but Willis believes that collaboration will be the key to tackling more complex issues. “This is what we do,” Willis said. “We go out and look for the needs of teachers, students and then try to bring solutions to them.”
At Granite Falls Middle School, principal Chris Ackerman announced to parents and students that the school had secured 30 Chromebooks from the Education Foundation. Caldwell County Schools Information Technology staff are currently linking the devices to each specific child’s student account, meaning the device will belong to them, not to the school. “When this computer comes to you, it is yours to keep,” Ackerman told the students.
Ackerman said that his staff chose the student recipients partly based on the needs that they could detect but also as a reward to students who have been performing well in the face of difficult circumstances, working in a hybrid or fully-remote learning environment. “We are here to say thank you because you are doing your work,” he said.
Ackerman hopes that giving students a device of their own, one that can stay with them through high school and beyond, will provide an incentive to commit to their studies. Many are struggling to adapt to remote learning and life apart from their classmates and teachers, he said.