Diane Norris, a fourth-grade teacher at Double Churches Elementary, has been an educator for 17 years, but she was as giddy as a rookie Monday as she opened her goody bag, filled with new technology for her classroom.
"It's wonderful," she said. "We need to do more 21st Century learning activities. We need more creativity in the classroom. We need more technology. And with a limited budget, that's difficult."
Now it's a more achievable task for these 12 Muscogee County School District teachers, thanks to the Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation and a grant from Wells Fargo. Each teacher four iPad Minis, protective cases and an iTunes certificate -- totaling about $27,000 in technology.
The foundation chose Eric Crouch of Double Churches and Susan Wilson of Blackmond Road Middle School as the STEM T3 program's lead teachers. Crouch and Wilson then chose 12 teachers to participate last year and another dozen this year.
STEM T3 stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Training Teachers through Technology.
"They try to pick teachers who have a good chance of using technology in the classroom," said Marquette McKnight, the foundation's director. "The teachers who are picked are supposed to share the equipment."
Two teachers at six schools were chosen, McKnight said, so they could learn together.
"They're not on an island," she said. "The lead teachers are also on call pretty much, and they have monthly mentoring sessions with them."
Norris said he classroom has has two desktop computers and one laptop, "and they're not in the best condition. The laptop is in the process of being replaced, but there's just not enough to go around."
The tablet computers will be easier for the students to use, she said.
"The kids are more comfortable with this type of technology," Norris said. "They're more creative and a lot more productive than with the desktop computers."
Norris thanked the foundation for the donation.
"The money is just not in the budget," she said. "So without supporters in the community like this, I really don't think a lot of things that are expected are going to be able to happen."
The following teachers received an iPad, three iPad Minis and an iTunes certificate as part of a $27,000 grant from the Muscogee Educational Excellence Foundation and Wells Fargo:
Blackmon Road Middle School: Lindy Dunn and Laura Adams
East Columbus Magnet Academy: Duanne Wizzard and Tesharra Alexander
Early College Academy: Susan Hernandez and Christy Grigsby
Double Churches Elementary School: Nikki Baugh and Diane Norris
North Columbus Elementary School: Kristin McPhail and Marci Doran
Wynnton Arts Academy: Morgan Loewen and Tatum Ranew