While district leaders are the first to tell you that technology doesn’t take the place of excellent teaching, it plays an important role in preparing students to navigate the 21st century global economy. And it’s extremely effective! Just ask a teacher whose classroom has been transformed with mobile furniture, audio amplification and furniture or through ‘Bring Your Own Device.’ These resources and environments are expanding the methods and horizons of students and educators.
Investing in educational technology the right way is an ongoing process. SchoolPower has utilized its Fund-a-Need for various technology programs over the past few years. Through monthly meetings and reports, the LBUSD/SchoolPower leadership team strives to assure that funding priorities have been thoroughly vetted so that donor dollars can be maximized. Funding discussions focus on issues like whether the resources are consistent with the district’s long term goals and curriculum, whether the technology is efficiently supported by and consistent with the district’s existing technology, whether the technology can be sustained over time and whether teachers have access to the training and are ready to take on a new tool. The end result has helped to take the Laguna Beach Unified School District from being one of the weakest technologically in Orange County to one of the strongest.
Indeed, in a recent letter to California Superintendents, Laguna was named as one of three districts to watch as an example of a “leading digital district” by Tom Torlakson, the State Superintendent, stating LBUSD is a “bright spot serving as a light of encouragement and guidance for our state.”
2016 Fund-a-Need: The Reimagined Classroom (and Library!)
The highlight of the evening was the video for this year’s Fund-a-Need, “The Reimagined Classroom (and Library!)”, to support the district initiative of transforming 11 classrooms at the high school and middle school, as well as the Thurston library. Created by teachers Andy Crisp and Jun Chen and introduced by LBUSD’s Chief Technology Officer Mike Morrison, the fast-paced video had the crowd laughing out loud as they followed a twisting and far-fetched journey that ultimately led to the practical conclusion of investing in our schools’ future.
Completely energized by the video, the crowd gave a standing ovation to its creators and then gave a record-breaking $349,050 to the Fund-a-Need initiative. An extremely generous “double match” by the Wilson and Martini families, along with contributions from LBUSD and SchoolPower Endowment, maximized the impact of each donation exponentially. Due to exceeding the ambitious goal, 12 classrooms (instead of the original 11) in addition the Thurston library will be reimagined with LCD displays, sound amplification and flexible furniture. This builds on last year’s Fund-a-Need, which helped the district modernize 12 classrooms to transform how Laguna students learn in this ever-changing world.
Parent Brent Martini explained, “Every upgraded space means more motivated and inspired teachers and students, and anytime you have that combination, high performing kids are a likely result. And that’s what this is all about…the fundamental belief that the better the learning environment, the better the learning, the better off our kids are at LBUSD.”
2015 Fund-a-Need: The 4Cs Learning Environment
The 2015 Fund-a-Need advanced a district initiative to transform and modernize classrooms. The effort is called the 4Cs Learning Environment, with 4Cs an abbreviation for creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication. In order to outfit 12 classrooms with large monitors, audio systems and innovative mobile desks that allow fluid configurations and collaboration amongst students, $424,000 was needed (or $35,500 per class). LBUSD committed $212,000, which meant SchoolPower needed to raise the other $212,000 — in one night.
It was an extremely ambitious, but ultimately attainable goal. SchoolPower president Tom Motherway and LBUSD chief technology officer Mike Morrison introduced the Fund-a-Need video, a parody of “The Office.” Thurston Middle School parent Brent Martini stepped forward at the beginning of the bidding to fund three classrooms. He explained, “What I learned is that the district has great intentions, but they can only go so fast… so I asked, how do we accelerate that?” The entire room of inspired guests responded by enthusiastically raising their paddles, making LBUSD and SchoolPower history along the way – the 2015 initiative raised the most money in the history of SchoolPower’s Fund-a-Need campaigns.
2014 Fund-a-Need: xTremely iNteractive
“Last year’s Fund-a-Need upgraded the district’s wireless network and allowed the increased use of classroom technology at all four schools,” said SchoolPower President Lynn Gregory. “We now have the infrastructure in place to take the next step with these new tools.”
The crowd raised paddles and pledged approximately $140,000 for this year’s Fund-a-Need, including an especially impactful and inspiring donation by Holly and David Wilson. In addition to their many contributions to the event, the Wilsons generously committed $37,880 to purchase Apple TVs and large screen monitors.
Via a video, “What Does a 21st Century Classroom Look Like?”, the audience heard from Laguna’s teachers about changes on local school campuses. “It’s been really exciting to integrate technology into the classroom so much more this year,” said Sarah Schaeffer, a Thurston Middle School English teacher. “Obviously, the end goal is not just technology for technology’s sake. Students need these skills to be successful 21st century learners.”
“When we are able to use technology, it is some of the highest engagement we have with our students,” said El Morro teacher Greg Togawa. “They’re focused. They’re motivated. They want to learn.”
2013 Fund-a-Need: Xtremely Wireless
SchoolPower’s 2013 fund-a-need raised $150,000 (including a $50,000 gift from Endowment) to upgrade the wireless infrastructure a all four Laguna Beach schools. These generous donations provided the latest infrastructure and technology access to our students, greatly enhancing their learning and overall educational experience.
Classroom Technology Teacher Grants
Bringing Video Technology into the Dance Studio, $2,822, Estee Carizosa and Samantha Hampton, LBHS
Smartboard, $8,265, Paul Matheson, TMS
Smart Board Software, $500, Kimberly Mattson, TOW
Digital Photography, $8,120, Kerry Pellow, Bridget Beaudry-Porter, Somer Selway, and Scott Wittkop, LBHS
Pasco Sensors, $6,320, Carrie Denton, LBHS
5th Grade iPad Keyboards, $2,335, Susan Dick, TOW
iPad classroom pilot program, $600, LBHS
History Alive! Virtual Notebook, $10,000, Michelle Martinez, TMS
5 Laptops for Center Enrichment, $3,871, TOW
Expanding Multimedia at Thurston, $990, Andy Crisp, LBHS
iPads for Education Elementary 5th grade pilot project funded by combined Endowment Grant and a donation from the Martini family, $37,300, 5th grade teams), EMS and TOW
iPad cases, $4,200, EMS, Tauna Knudson
Innovative teaching using the iPod Touch, $7,500, Ron LaMotte, TOW