By Laurie Hindman
Sixth-grade math teacher Dave Hunn stands before a large illuminated white board. With a tap of a stylus, about the size of a small pen, a virtual ruler appears. With that stylus, Hunn can move or rotate the ruler, measuring a geometric object that magically appears with another tap. The eyes of the students are riveted to the board and the typically restless group of adolescents appears fully engaged in the lesson.
Hunn is using a Promethean Interactive Whiteboard, an innovative technology that combines the traditional overhead concept with the vast resources of the computer and Internet. Better yet, teachers and students alike can “write” on the boards, sharing their work with the entire class. Teachers can easily integrate curriculum, tests, Internet, music and video, giving students access to creative, informative and captivating lessons, and decreasing their dependence on worksheets.
Turner Middle School and Berthoud Elementary have eight boards each, Berthoud High School has one Promethean and one Smart Board (technology similar to the Promethean), and Ivy Stockwell has a Promethean board in every classroom. Most of the boards were purchased by money raised during one impressive evening last spring.
On April 18 of this year an organization created by a group of dedicated Berthoud parents held a dinner and auction that raised over $60,000. That organization is the Berthoud Schools Fund, a nonprofit, 501(c) 3, that operates under the umbrella of the Thompson Education Foundation; the dinner/auction was the “Berthoud BASH” held at the new Embassy Suites Hotel near The Ranch, where they successfully auctioned everything from a ride in a MiG jet to being principal for day at Turner Middle School. Berthoud residents, parents, schoolteachers and Thompson School District staff, turned out in force and opened their hearts and wallets to help Berthoud schools.
The event was the brainchild of Berthoud residents, Scott and Suzanne Cavey, who had seen a similar fundraising effort at a small school their children had attended in Iowa. “We felt the concept would work well here,” said Suzanne Cavey. She said it follows a pattern used by private schools, but that the formula is an easy one to apply to public schools.
“The BASH is a night out for the parents, away from school,” said Cavey. “It allows parents and the community to know they are making a huge impact in the schools.”
Cavey said Berthoud Schools Fund’s goal is to raise money for technology needs that cannot be met by traditional means. Their hope is that the annual BASH will ultimately replace some of the smaller fundraising efforts that take place during the school year. “Rather than nickel and diming parents, let’s have one big effort once a year — more bang for our bucks.” Cavey explained that the good thing about the BASH proceeds is that almost all of the money raised goes directly into the schools. “When you use magazine companies or wrapping paper and candy companies, a large portion of the money raised goes back to the company.”
This is not to say that PTA fundraising is not still important. “PTA fills certain, vital needs in the school, such as field trips,” said Cavey. “The Berthoud Schools Fund is specifically targeting technology needs.”
Camilla Lojeske, principal at Berthoud Elementary, said the Promethean boards have transformed the classrooms. “The staff is so excited. They see potential for integrating content across the curriculum. We are using the boards in math, social studies, science, language arts — even things like taking the lunch count.”
One of the best outcomes of the new technology, according to Lojeske, is the level of the children’s involvement. “Student engagement is extremely high.”
Turner Middle School principal Bill Siebers agreed. “The boards are fantastic.” Siebers said one is being used for their math/science focus program. “It provides a hands on approach that is highly motivating to the students.”
Rhonda Richer, principal at Ivy Stockwell, said the challenge for the elementary school is to become proficient with the full range of the Promethean board’s potential. “We are at the transformative stage,” Richer noted. “We want to make sure we are not doing the same thing we have always done, but with a fancy whiteboard. We need to move forward as a school and embrace the opportunities this technology brings.”
The next Berthoud BASH is scheduled for March 20, 2010. Berthoud High School Principal Chris Garcia is already thinking about his wish list. “As the math/science magnet school for the district we need to integrate technology into the curriculum in a way that best aligns with our goals.”
Garcia said that BHS needs might not look the same as the other Berthoud schools. “A Promethean board definitely has its uses at the high school level, but I would also like to see more document cameras in our classrooms. These are far less expensive and more portable.”
The principals were not short on adjectives to describe the efforts of the Berthoud Schools Fund organization and the people who contributed time and money. “Incredibly generous people,” said Lojeske. “We are immensely grateful,” stated Richer. “Another example of what a great place Berthoud is to raise kids,” commented Garcia.
Siebers said he was amazed at the way everyone worked together to bring new technology into the schools. “We have a huge sense of appreciation for what the community has done. The Bash did in one night what would have taken us five years to do.”
The Berthoud Schools Fund is planning a community open house in early November. Residents will be invited to tour classrooms and see the new technology in use. More information on that event will be made available soon.
The Berthoud Schools Fund is seeking auction items and volunteers for the March 20 Berthoud BASH. For more information about how you can help, visit their Web site at www.BerthoudSchools.org.
<p>Turner Middle School student Iyanna Castillo “writes” with a stylus on a Promethean Interactive white board during Dave Hunn’s math class. The board is one of six in Turner thanks to the Berthoud BASH event last April. The Berthoud Schools Fund is planning to invite the community to an open house in early November to see the new technology in use.</p>