Monday, January 30, 2012

Southern Idaho Teachers Win $32,000 in Grants from CenturyLink for Innovative Technology Projects

Borah High School students with severe to moderate cognitive disabilities and severe physical disabilities will be able to produce high quality signs, plaques, name tags and awards with the use of a Roland Desktop Engraver. Seventh graders at West Junior High School will take a virtual field trip of the National World War II Museum with a museum educator.  Eagle Middle School 8th grade Science classes will go “Technological” with laptop computers.  Eighth grade Literature students at Middleton Middle School will use ThinkPad Tablets to  create book trailers, power points, movies and other forms of presentations.

The Southern Idaho teachers are among 12 statewide winners who are recipients of the   CenturyLink “Innovative Uses of Technology in Education” Grant Program which is now in its eighth year.  The program began after a statewide evaluation of technology in public schools in 2003 found many teachers needed support in integrating technology into the curriculum.  CenturyLink, which merged with Qwest in April of last year, will provide a total of $100,000 to the twelve grant winners across Idaho this year, bringing the total over the eight years to $590,000.  CenturyLink Idaho Vice President and General Manager, Jim Schmit, and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna presented all three teachers with their awards in their classrooms on Monday, Jan. 30th.

The Borah High winner is Neal Jareczek who was awarded $6,405 to purchase a Roland EGX 350 Computer Engraver, software and accessories. The new engraving machine will enable students with limited physical ability to engrave high quality items and will expand engraving fonts from 8 to 55 and hundreds of layout possibilities. He applied for the grant in honor of one of his students -- Todd Bair -- who had muscular dystrophy and passed away last year at the age of 17.
Neal Jareczek is a special education teacher at Borah High School who runs the Borah BEST program. He will use this grant award to purchase engraving technology and teach students with disabilities job skills.
The West Junior High winner is Paige Somoza who was awarded $9,934 to purchase the Pearl Harbor Virtual Tour program and a Tandberg 990 Video Conferencing System.  By experiencing the Pearl Harbor Virtual Tour program, West Junior High students will have a deeper understanding of Japanese and American motivations and actions during World War II. 
Paige Somoza is a 7th grade history teacher at West Junior High. She will use the grant award to purchase video teleconferencing equipment so her students can take a virtual field trip of the World War II museum in New Orleans.
The Eagle Middle School winner is Karen Miller who was awarded $5,940 to purchase 12 Laptop Computers to be used in the 8th grade Science labs.  These laptops will give students the opportunity to carry out their own research, immediately perform analysis and share those findings with other students.
Karen Miller is an 8th grade science teacher at Eagle Middle School. She will use the CenturyLink grant award to purchase laptops for her students to use in the science lab to analyze results and build spreadsheets.

The Middleton Middle School winner is Sarah Thompson who was awarded $9,995 to purchase 16 Lenovo ThinkPad Tablets with keyboard docks and software.  Utilizing these Tablets to integrate multimedia activities will allow for students to improve their writing, critical thinking, presentation skills and abilities.
Sarah Thompson teaches 8th grade language at Middleton Middle School and wants to use a classroom set of Lenovo tablets to engage students in multimedia activities, improve writing skills and build critical thinking skills.
“These teachers know and understand the important role technology can play in the classroom to help individualize instruction and raise academic achievement for every student,” Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Luna said. “I am grateful to CenturyLink for its continued commitment to Idaho’s teachers and students every year as they work to bring these innovative ideas to life and create the 21st Century Classroom in every school.”

“In reviewing more than one hundred applications, we have been very impressed with the level of interest and overall excellence of the grant proposals,” Schmit said. “There are many teachers in Idaho who are doing innovative things with technology in their classrooms.  This is a great opportunity for CenturyLink to make a positive difference in students’ lives by identifying some of those teachers, recognizing them for their outstanding work, and supporting them with financial assistance to expand their use of technology even further.  From our past experience with these grants, students are genuinely excited to experience the learning opportunities provided by these teachers through their creative use of technology.”

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