WYANDOTTE – A donation of $39,000 puts a laptop computer in the hands of every Wyandotte High School student.
Superintendent Troy Gray said the contribution made through a grant by Phillips 66 will give Wyandotte High School students direct access to technology.
“Dallas Gramm, a local pipeliner with Phillips, came to us and brought this to us. We're looking at going one-to-one with our kids, which means that every high school student will have their own Chromebook and case,” Gray said. “They can take that from class to class and take it home with them. It's impossible for us with budget cuts to make this happen without their help.”
Gray said with the Phillips 66 grant more than 200 Chromebooks were purchased to be used starting this coming school year. He said the district had to write a grant proposal explaining what project they would use the funding to accomplish.
“We very active and generous in providing grants. It's one of our core values, supporting our local schools and the community,” Phillips 66 Area Operations Supervisor Brennon Blevins said. “We're proud to do business in these communities, and we like to share the wealth a little bit. We like to be good corporate citizens.”
Blevins said Phillips 66 has supported communities and schools for many years through grants.
“We really support the STEM efforts that are going on, and also with our literacy efforts,” he said. “It's always good to support our schools, and hopefully we can also spur some enthusiasm for technology and our industry.”
Gramm said this was the second area school to receive such a grant, and many Phillips employees live and work in the area. Gramm offices out of Mt. Vernon Missouri and Blevins out of Phillips 66 Ponca City office.
“We're just proud to be able to help,” Gramm said. “It's what we do.”
The district made the laptop purchase using the Phillips 66 grant and used other support for training.
“Of course we received some donations from Wyandotte Nation, and the Seneca-Cayugas have helped us finish it out. We're excited about that, our teachers have been coming in and training,” Gray said.“It's a blessing for us because it can't happen without it.”
Having a laptop computer for each student gives immediate feedback to teachers, and added internet access for students while at home for research and study. Teachers, as well as students, will be trained how to use the laptops as a classroom tool.
“Immediate feedback is huge,” IT Director/Teacher Cameron Royster said. “There's a lot of tools our teachers have been using, working on and practicing with, to get those kinds of results. It kind of changes the way class can be done day to day, and outside the class at home.”
Royster said teachers have started in-house training as well as workshop training led by other experienced teachers and trainers from other districts already using the Chromebooks.
“It's more work, but it will be worth it. We started at the end of the year right when we learned that this was going to be possible. We've had teachers coming over the summer on their own time to get more training and then obviously before school starts,” Royster said. “Everybody has to be committed in order to make it work.”
“That was the whole purpose of this grant straight up, was to go one-to-one and be innovative. That's the world that the kids are in now, and to keep them engaged,” Gray said.
Royster said the donation used for the laptops will also help students with college readiness.
“There's not a class that the kids take in college this wouldn't help, and so preparing our kids for college this is one way to definitely prepare them for that world,” he said.
Royster's wife, Amanda, teaches at Carl Junction, Missouri where they use Chromebooks in class, and the teachers and staff visited and observed how the laptops were being used giving them the idea to use the grant funding for a similar project.
The Wyandotte superintendent said the high school teachers are excited to put the new Chromebooks to use this coming school year and anxious to learn more ways to use them.
“The key to being successful is you have to have a plan. Just to go in and buy Chromebooks is not going to make us successful. It's the training, and knowing how to use them,” Gray said. “You have to be able to sustain it.”