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Wednesday, October 13, 2004

UNCP, ECU, Golden LEAF bring computers to Magnolia

UNC Pembroke, East Carolina University (ECU) and the Golden LEAF, Inc., Foundation teamed up this fall to boost teacher retention and student technology at Magnolia School in Robeson County.

Sandra Harvey of ECU, Deborah Davis and Lyn Blanks of Magnolia School and Dr. Jane Huffman of UNCP

Sandra Harvey of ECU, Deborah Davis and Lyn Blanks of Magnolia School and Dr. Jane Huffman of UNCP.

Dr. Jane Huffman, chair of UNCP’s Education Department, Brenda Deese, the director of student services for the Public Schools of Robeson County, and Dr. Sandra Harvey, the director of the Golden LEAF’s Educational Consortium for ECU, delivered 14 Apple iBook laptop computers, printer and sound system on a rolling cart on October 8. The computers are connected with Apple’s Airport wireless technology.

The gift is valued at approximately $20,000 Dr. Harvey said.

“Our thinking is that if teachers have the technology support and equipment they need, it will improve retention and recruitment of teachers,” Harvey said. “Of course, the technology benefits will filter down to the students too.”

Magnolia School third grade teacher Deborah Davis and second grade teacher Lynn Blanks wrote the winning proposal for the project.

“One of the things about teaching in a rural school like this is the lack of technology in school and in the students’ homes too,” Davis said. “This is an extra resource for our students to do research with, and we will integrate technology into the curriculum.”

Dr. Huffman noted another benefit of the mobile, wireless computer lab.

“Placing laptops in the classroom will provide ready access to technology,” Dr. Huffman said. “The teacher’s lessons will be enhanced through the integration of technology into daily classroom activities. No longer will the teacher have to schedule computer lab time. Students will be able to word process and conduct research without leaving the classroom.”

As boxes were unpacked and the card loaded with computers and peripherals, Magnolia Assistant Principal Wesley Floyd thanked the consortium.

“This goes hand in hand with the technology emphasis in our School Improvement Plan,” Floyd said.

Dr. Linda Emmanuel, assistant superintendent for curriculum and support services, noted the benefits to the critical area of teacher recruitment.

“This is a welcome addition,” Dr. Emmanuel said. “Anything we can do to assist teacher recruitment and retention is welcome.”

The education consortium, which delivered the grant award, was funded by a Golden LEAF grant of $250,000 and is titled, “The Three R's in Improving Teacher Shortages: Recruitment, Retention, and Resilience.”

The purpose of this Golden LEAF grant is to assist school system personnel in eight rural eastern North Carolina counties as they work to recruit and retain quality teachers by providing a research-based Model of Teacher Recruitment and Retention. Funds from this grant will be used to support the Golden LEAF Education Consortium in partnering with the School of Education and the Rural Institute to implement proven strategies for recruitment and retention and to create a Center for Rural Best Practices in Education.

The consortium includes East Carolina University, Elizabeth City State University, UNC Pembroke, Edgecombe Community College, and Bertie, Edgecombe, Greene, Jones, Halifax, Perquimans, Robeson, and Washington County School Systems.

Golden LEAF, Inc. foundation (Long-term Economic Advancement Foundation) was created in 1999 as a non-profit corporation by Court Order in the consent decree resolving litigation initiated by the North Carolina Department of Justice. It receives one half of the funds coming to North Carolina resulting from the Master Settlement Agreement and makes grants to non-profit and government agencies.

Headquartered in Rocky Mount, N.C., Golden LEAF’s mission is to improve the economic and social conditions of North Carolina’s people. Its objectives are to promote the social welfare of the state’s citizens and to receive and distribute funds for economic impact assistance.

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