KENMORE — State of the art technology upgrades have been the focus of St. John the Baptist School. St. John's has invested more than $45,000 to install interactive SmartBoards into every classroom from kindergarten through eighth grade, as well as the library and art departments. Moreover, they have secured wireless Internet connections throughout the campus and have obtained iPads to complement the teachers' use of the SmartBoards. Some of these funds will also be used to provide additional training to the faculty and staff.
The availability of funds is a direct result of the support of Father Michael Parker, pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish, in conjunction with the Diocese of Buffalo, and the success of the Alumni Association's "School Walkway."
"All capital improvements over $10,000 must be approved by the Diocese of Buffalo," said Cynthia Jacobs, the school's principal. "We were thrilled that Father Michael supported this upgrade by investing in the school with about $25,000 to make the entire purchase, and that the diocese approved the project. It's a testament to the strength and stability of our school today and into the future."
Jacobs said the school initiated the walkway project last year.
"The goal was to create a living tribute to those who have been touched by the St. John's community by enhancing our campus grounds, and to raise capital for our school," Jacobs said. "The project netted more than $20,000 due to the tremendous response from our alums, current school families, and parish community. These funds, along with the parish's investment, made this project possible."
Jacobs notes that although the school could have purchased some of the equipment this year and the remainder in the years to come, both Father Parker and the members of the parish finance council felt the technology would have an immediate and imperative impact on the children's education.
"Our main focus is ensuring we deliver the curriculum with the tools and capable personnel that best maximizes learning," Jacobs said.
From the primary teachers who use the SmartBoards to capture students' focus, to the middle school teachers who are able to present "virtual dissections" in biology to complement the "real thing," the applications are as endless as the Internet and the imagination. Jessica Itotia, who teaches sixth-grade Social Studies, plans to visit the ancient caves of Lascaux in southern France.
"Instead of having the kids look at pictures in textbooks, we have access to sites that allow the kids to seemingly traverse through the caves," Itotia said. "The huge screen of the SmartBoard makes the caves look like a giant wall and the kids get a much more accurate sense of how awesome they are. Since a field trip to southern France is not in our future, this is really the next best thing. As a new faculty member at St. John's, I'm just thrilled to have these tools available to use with the kids. It's impressive."