More than 125 iPad minis and iPad 4s already have been purchased with the funds. These iPads will be used by itinerant early childhood special education teachers, itinerant speech & language pathologists and by elementary students with specific learning disabilities in 17 sites throughout the district starting in September.
This grant will help students reach their educational goals through the use of highly engaging instructional tools and strategies.
“This opportunity is unique in that it can be implemented district-wide, and not just in one classroom in one school,” said Lee Allinger, district superintendent. “We now have the opportunity to personalize learning experiences to meet learning needs anytime and anywhere.”
These opportunities are available because the technology can compensate in areas where students struggle.
Parents Dan and Diane Meissner have seen this first-hand. Their son Nathan, soon-to-be 10, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at age 4. Now tumor-free, the surgeries caused nerve damage resulting in changes to his sight and hearing and left him with a tremor in his hand which led to frustration when trying to write his thoughts on paper.
A student at McKinley Elementary School, Nathan now uses an iPad to complete school tasks and, according to his parents, is much more engaged in learning. The Meissners strongly support the addition of iPads so that many more district students can experience similar educational transformations.
“Nathan is very bright, it just takes him longer,” Dan Meissner said. “The capacity the district now has for assistive technologies will allow Nathan and other kids another opportunity to learn.”
A steering committee has been formed to carry out the implementation of this program. Brian Anderson, AASD director of special education, and Jennifer Vandeneng, AASD speech & language pathologist and assistive technology team member, co-chair the team. Other key stakeholders, including learning disabilities and early childhood special education teachers, speech & language pathologists, parents, district IT staff and Bemis employees also are involved.
“When John Kreul, Bemis’ Vice President and Chief Information Officer, expressed a strong interest in pursuing funding through the Bemis Foundation for iPads for LD students, we did the research, discovered how impactful this technology could be for students through conversations with AASD and other school districts, and we decided this was a significant opportunity to bring our foundation’s resources to bear on an area of educational need. John’s expertise in IT, along with that of his team, made us aware of the possibilities. Bemis is truly happy to work with AASD to help put this technology in the hands of students and teachers in our community,” said Kim Wetzel of Bemis Company Foundation.
The steering committee has been prioritizing apps and accessories needed for optimal use. The iPads with key apps will be ready for the start of the school year on September 3.
A sampling of apps that will be available on each iPad include Read2Go – an e-reader, SimpleMind – a mind mapping tool, Typ-O HD – a word prediction app and AudioNote an app that combines the functionality of a notepad and voice recorder.
Apps and accessories like Bluetooth keyboards will be integrated as additional funds become available.
“The addition of over 100 iPads for the district is a need the Appleton Education Foundation could not meet with its own limited resources,” said Julie Krause, AEF executive director. “We are pleased to find a generous partner in the Bemis Company Foundation to help open up new learning opportunities for hundreds of AASD students.”
AASD staff members who will be using the new iPads this school year will complete training on Thursday, August 29, during a district-wide staff development day. Additional training and sharing opportunities will take place throughout the school year.
Student outcomes will be tracked to show the benefits of using this type of technology with students receiving itinerant early childhood special education and speech & language services and elementary students with specific learning disabilities.
The Bemis Company Foundation hopes to expand this program at the rate of one school district per year in its facility communities throughout the country.
The Appleton Education Foundation, a supporting organization of the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, has awarded more than $3 million in grants since its founding in 1997. Grants provide accessible, flexible funding for creative and innovative programs not covered by the school budget. For more information, please call (920) 832-1517 or visit www.appletoneducationfoundation.org.
Bemis Company, Inc. is a major supplier of packaging and pressure sensitive materials used by leading food, consumer products, healthcare, and other companies worldwide. Founded in 1858, Bemis Company is included in the S&P 500 index of stocks and reported 2012 net sales of $5.1 billion. Bemis has a strong technical base in polymer chemistry, film extrusion, coating and laminating, printing, and converting. Headquartered in Neenah, Wisconsin, Bemis employs approximately 20,000 individuals worldwide. More information about Bemis is available at www.bemis.com.