The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

November 27, 2012

Pittsburg schools to spend gifted money on iPads, textbooks

By Andra Bryan Stefanoni

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Five Pittsburg elementary schools received a gift from BMO Harris Bank Kansas on Tuesday: a total of $15,000 to spend as administrators saw fit.

Superintendent Destry Brown worked with principals at each of his public schools — Lakeside, George Nettels, Westside and Meadowlark — to determine how to best use the money. They chose to purchase iPads for students’ use.

Faculty members at St. Mary’s Elementary, a private Catholic school, chose to use their $3,000 allotment to buy new textbooks to complement the newly released common core standards issued by the Kansas State Department of Education.

“We were just very thankful that they thought of us,” said Nancy Hicks, principal at St. Mary’s. “It’s kind of shocking and a surprise all at the same time when someone offers you that kind of money.”

While the gift won’t cover an entirely new textbook series for the whole school, “It’s a beginning,” Hicks said, “and we’re grateful for that. We can build on it.”

Courtney McCartney, Lakeside principal, said the gift will allow her two-story school to purchase enough iPads to complete a second iPad cart.

“We got a mobile cart of iPads last year that was used often, and then we were able to secure 20 more,” she said. “This will enable us to finish the second cart to make it a complete class set, and that way one can be used downstairs with K-3 and one can be upstairs for fourth- and fifth-graders.”

Teachers are training for classroom integration of iPads as teaching and communication tools, including using them as an automated answering system to allow teachers to quickly gauge which students understand the material and which ones don’t.

“We have also had a couple of students who have special needs and are able to use iPads to help with speaking, and students with communication difficulties can write on them using the notepad function,” McCartney said. “They are great for whole-class activities and individual learning.”

Bank President Brad Smith said one of the strengths in Pittsburg is the education system, from kindergarten through college, and that he was pleased to be able to enrich it in this way.

At a glance

BMO HARRIS BANK, based in Chicago, provides personal banking products and solutions through more than 600 branches and about 1,300 ATMs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, Missouri, Minnesota, Nevada, Arizona and Florida.