Florida Weekly Column

IPad Minis Help Bridge a Gap

IPad Minis Help Bridge a Gap

by Juana Brown, RCMA Director of Charter Schools

This summer, as the SWFL Community Foundation gears up for the next competitive grant cycle, we have asked our 2015 grantees to send us their stories. Here this week we learn from Juana Brown, RCMA Director of Charter Schools, about how our grant provided the funding for technology in the classroom. The Foundation is pleased to partner with these change makers. If you have ideas and hope for the future, we’d love to hear from you at [email protected] or @SWFLCFnd on Twitter.

Ann Marie Morgiewicz’s second-grade classroom in Immokalee Community School is a lively and industrious place. One group of students gathers around a crescent table coaxing disjointed sentences into paragraphs. Other students sit on the carpet describing their science experiments. Two students review a reading assignment with help from a volunteer. Others gather paper airplanes and science journals in preparation for another round of test flights. Children launch Javelins and Mighty Mites, Flying Foxes and Cat Ears into the air, then measure and record the distance flown.

All students use iPad Minis.

Thanks to the Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s support, every first- and second-grader at the School has an iPad Mini for use at school and with parents at home. The iPads are bringing educational fairness to our students and their families; they are closing the technology gap in our rural agricultural community.

Eighty percent of jobs created in the next decade will require significant math, science and technology, along with excellent communication skills. Preparing our students for a demanding and innovative workplace means developing educational technologies. These best practices help students cultivate language, literacy, critical-thinking skills, and the background knowledge needed for levels of success in higher education and careers that are currently outside the reach of most of our school families.

Redlands Christian Migrant Association, which runs the school, serves over 800 farmworker families with educational programs. These families earn an average yearly income of $12,000 working in the fields or processing plants. Most ICS parents lack any formal education. Many neither read nor write. Yet they are gaining technology skills in iPad workshops. IPads are linking parents with the school as educational partners through shared videos. Each week teachers share highlights of classroom activities via iPad, and parents reciprocate by sharing videos of students reading and parents telling stories.

As RCMA celebrates its 50th anniversary, the work becomes ever more compelling. There are many transformational success stories through the years, and education has played a key role. It begins with classrooms like Ms. Morgiewicz and partners willing to invest in a child.

If you are interested in learning more about RCMA’s transformational programs, join us in making a difference for our students by contacting me at [email protected].

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