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by Paul McKibben
Using the latest technology is a priority for one New York Catholic school. St. Aidan School in Williston Park, NY, began its one-to-one iPad program in the 2012-13 school year with 50 fifth-grade students.
Using the latest technology is a priority for one New York Catholic school. St. Aidan School in Williston Park, NY, began its one-to-one iPad program in the 2012-13 school year with 50 fifth-grade students. Today, the school has more 200 students in fifth through eighth grades who are each using a school-owned iPad.
“We do feel that one-to-one is where the world is moving because everybody is using their digital devices on a daily basis,” said Mary Jane Radonic, the school’s technology coordinator, who teaches technology to students in fourth through eighth grades.
The school, which is part of the Church of St. Aidan on Long Island in the Diocese of Rockville Centre, has 529 students in nursery school through eighth grade.
Radonic said students love using the iPads. As students might occasionally forget homework or lunch money, students do offer the occasional excuse about forgetting to charge their iPads or leaving them at home. Each student has an email account and is allowed to email peers for school purposes, Radonic said. The school uses an app called Showbie (showbie.com) that allows teachers to review a student’s work on a tablet.
The school uses the iPads as electronic readers with Barnes & Noble’s Nook app. The school purchases e-books through the company. The school also uses other electronic educational services such as Khan Academy and Castle Learning.
St. Aidan has used money from an annual auction benefitting the school to purchase the iPads.
The school charges a technology fee for students in kindergarten through eighth grade in order to maintain and upgrade its technology program.
Before starting its iPad program, St. Aidan teachers visited the local public school district (Mineola Union Free School District), which was already using iPads and which had started the program with fifth grade too. Radonic said visiting the district was helpful. Her advice to other schools who are considering a similar program is to start out slow like St. Aidan did and make sure teachers are on board with it.
“Our teachers each had an iPad a whole year before this,” she said. “And we met once a month working to make sure… we were going to use them.”
The iPads aren’t the only technology the school uses. There are two computer centers and a library media center. The media center features desktop and laptop computers and video conferencing among other electronics. Every classroom in full-day pre-kindergarten through eighth grade also has a SMART Board.
Helene Pacher’s two sons graduated from St. Aidan, and her daughter currently attends sixth grade there. Pacher said the iPads “were the big change.” Her daughter can even do math homework in the car.
“We don’t use blackboards (in fourth through eighth grades) anymore,” Pacher said. “The students, they’re able to get a lot more information quickly through the use of the SMART Boards, and they’re more hands-on.”
Rosary Cathedral Catholic School (RCCS) is a K-8 diocesan school that operates as part of Central City Ministry of Toledo.
Rosary Cathedral Catholic School (RCCS) is a K-8 diocesan school that operates as part of Central City Ministry of Toledo. The school recently celebrated its 100th anniversary of educational and spiritual excellence. RCCS offers a strong academic and religious education to a diverse population while focusing on personal growth and compassion for others.
RCCS is located in the central city, where students often come from difficult home circumstances. The school’s vision involves meeting these challenges to educate all children and set them on successful paths to the future.
Teachers rely greatly on community support to provide special opportunities for the students at Rosary Cathedral. The school has partnerships with Mercy Health, Lourdes University, the local Catholic high schools, Mobile Meals of Toledo, and many other organizations that give back by supporting the students.
Some programs welcome individual volunteers who come into the school to assist the students directly. One of these programs, Adopt-A-Class, engages donors to be positive role models for students. The sponsors help pay tuition costs and interact with the children in their classes, join them on field trips, help with classroom projects, and offer academic support through reading and tutoring.
Father Tony Gallagher has been an Adopt-A-Class sponsor for about five years. He works with junior-high students, sharing character-building ideas and encouragement, answering religious questions, and helping students with challenges. “I regard RCCS as a vitally important ministry to children and families who otherwise would not have an opportunity for its life-giving, Catholic values-oriented education,” he explained. “I chose to work with junior high because those years are the most challenging.”
The Christ Child Society is a charitable organization dedicated to improving the lives of children in need, and volunteers from the Toledo chapter have been spending time with students at RCCS since 2008. They assist teachers with whatever the class needs. Volunteers decorate hallways, teach students organizational skills, or take projects home to complete for classroom use.
Corinne Welsh is a Christ Child Society volunteer who works with third-graders. She chose to help at Rosary Cathedral because she loves working with kids. “I think they really appreciate me being patient with them and giving them individual attention because teachers, parents, and other adults aren’t always able to do that,” she said. “I can tell by the look in their eyes that I am making some sort of impact.”
“Corinne is a huge role model for my students,” said third-grade teacher Sami Nye. “She makes it known that she cares about who they are, who they become, and where they are going in life. My students open up to her, which is a challenge for most of them since they struggle with trusting adults. Our school is a better place because of our volunteers, and our students are doing better in their studies because of these programs.”
“Volunteers enhance the lives of students by providing the ‘extras,’” added one parent. “They selflessly serve and are there to focus on individuals. They are very much needed.”
Very few volunteers at RCCS had any connection to the school before they offered to help. They simply believe in the mission and want to make a difference in the lives of children.