Students in two second-grade classrooms at Tozer Primary School in Windsor will benefit from the booming oil and gas industry when the 2014-15 school year begins in the fall.
Great Western Oil and Gas Company in Windsor, a division of The Broe Group out of Denver, donated $20,000 to the Windsor-Severance Re-4 School District to pay for 60 Google Nexus tablets in a ceremony at the district administration office Monday.
The first-of-its-kind pilot program will provide the tablets to the classrooms of Tozer teachers Lori Hoffner and Melanie Stanfill.
“This initiative started several months ago when our mayor (John Vázquez) and our board president (Sean Ash) were talking about school district funding and the constraints we have,” said Re-4 Superintendent Karen Trusler.
Trusler said Stephanie Watson, Re-4 assistant superintendent for businesses services, met with the town board and school board members during a work session to talk about the problems the district has in funding its schools.
The talk continued with the school district, town officials and Great Western Oil and Gas Company and the donation became a reality.
“The earlier the better, and the more we can get them exposed to different technology we’ll all benefit,” Ash said.
Re-4 technology director Trevor Timmons said the tablets will be welcomed with funding always so tight.
“We’ve talked in the past about how funding is tight, and so to be able to get two additional labs is going to impact two more classrooms that we weren’t able to get to otherwise,” Timmons said. “That is really helpful and exciting.”
Trusler said helping younger students apply what they know and learn what they know in a 21st century environment, utilizing not only problem solving and critical thinking skills, but also using some type of device versus paper, pencil and worksheets is a critical component of learning in this high-tech society.
“One of things that they’re required to do now is keyboarding,” Hoffner said of second-graders. “That’s something that’s going to be really important with all of the online testing that’s going to be happening. Any opportunity that we have to increase their knowledge of keyboarding and their skills of doing that kind of thing we’re really excited for.”
Hoffner and Stanfill were working on a silver linings grant for chromebooks when they found out their classrooms would receive the tablets because tablets fit better for primary level students.
“Everything is based on a computer and everything is pretty much online based,” Stanfill said.
Great Western Oil and Gas Company will pay for the tablets, and the school district will offer professional development as well as fund the cases to protect the tablets and purchase the carts to lock, store and charge the tablets at Tozer.
“Our goals for this partnership is to increase student achievement, apply 21st century skills and expand our use of technology in other grades,” Trusler said. “We think this will be a catalyst that we hope will spread with other organizations to join with us in this partnership so that our students are 21st century ready.”
Rich Frommer, president and CEO of Great Western Oil and Gas Company, said he was proud to be a part of the pilot program.
“It’s really important for us to make an investment in our future, which is our kids. I really am excited about this opportunity and the fact we as the developer of natural resources that underline this town can do something to help the future explorers of our town and our country learn to understand 21st century technology,” Frommer said. “We need to get the kids started today in getting comfortable in technology, as well as our teachers, so that we can all participate in the 21st century. We’re very happy that this could be the start and hopefully it catches on to other organizations that are participants in our community.”
Windsor Town Board member Ivan Adams, who was an elementary school principal for 30 years before retiring, knows how important these tablets will be at Tozer.
“It’s very important. I think it’s something that we need desperately,” said Adams, who volunteers in classrooms at Tozer. “The new age of kids need the technology part of it. The kids are ready.”