In today's computer-based world, technology advances by leaps and bounds practically every day. Two area schools have invested in their students' futures by using available stimulus funds to upgrade classroom technologies to help give them a scholastic edge.
The Mammoth Spring School District had to use their stimulus money in three select areas: State Fixed Stabilization Funds, IDEA or special education, and Title I technology.
Pre-K teacher Liz Rogers loves her new Smart Board, a large touch screen computer which allows the students to participate directly with the learning tool. Rogers says the new equipment purchased by the school is essential to the education environment.
"Kids today are familiar with technology and not afraid of it at all," said Rogers. And thanks to the one on one interaction, the students retain more of the information. "It's necessary in today's world because this is what kids are used to and traditional lectures are becoming somewhat obsolete. We need to keep these kids on track with new technologies."
Mammoth Spring Elementary Principal, Wade Powell, says the excitement in the kid's faces as they work with the new technology is a sight to see.
"It's just like a regular computer - the kids can interact with it and really seem to enjoy it," said Powell.
Aside from the new Smart Boards, the school also invested some of the funds in new playground equipment.
"We had playground equipment that was here long before I was a child in school here, so it was greatly needed," said Powell. "Kids need the physical activity. That's the underlying reason for having recess, and outside activities to get them moving. When I was young I went home and played outside - a lot of kids these days don't spend as much time outside as we used to, and they need that physical activity to stay healthy."
Across the state line in Thayer, Mo., Thayer R-2 Schools Superintendent Rod Priest says the district has been busy equipping classrooms with new technologies and also plans to save some stimulus money to continue programs aimed at improving reading and math skills next year.
The district used it's Title 1 funds to support the pre-school program and install 10 new Smart Boards in the elementary school.
"When we got the Reading First grant three years ago, it allowed us to buy smart boards and computers for each of those kindergarten through third grade classrooms," said Thayer Elementary Principal Gaylon Justus. "So what we wanted to do this time was, when we got the stimulus money, we wanted to use it to replace the older boards and put boards into classrooms that didn't already have them and this allowed some extras to be moved into the library and art and music rooms."
The district's special education funds were used for supplies, Smart Boards, additional computers, medical therapy and for the purchase of a handicap accessible bus.
The district also plans to carry over some special education funds for use next year to continue to support the special needs students.