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Discover Card donates $20,000 each to two local schools

Thursday, January 17, 20131179 views

Things got a little brighter for Robert Frost and Jackling elementary schools at the end of last year. Discover Card made a donation to each school for $20,000 from its Success in Schools program.

Jackling Principal Jared Broderick said he plans to use the money to help pay for math and reading aides, to purchase new library books and for student assessment software. This donation will go a long way in helping Jackling’s students do better in school, he said.

“We have a lot of students that move around a lot, and education isn’t generally high on their priority list,” he said. “This money will help pay for aides and provide software to gauge how students are doing. It’s a great donation, and we appreciate the support.”

Through the Success in Schools program, Discover Card adopts schools in need to provide them with financial help to fund necessary programs. Discover Card also sends volunteers to the schools throughout the school year to help with tutoring, mentoring and provides labor for service projects to improve the school. Jackling and Frost elementary schools have been partnering with Discover Card for more than five years.

About half of Jackling’s money will be used to fund the two aide positions the school currently has and to keep them helping students in all grade levels. Broderick said the aides aren’t as highly trained as the teachers are. By taking out the students that are in the middle to high levels in the class to work with the aides, the teachers are able to work with the students that need the most help.

“The aides we have are essential to our students’ success,” Broderick said.

Some of the money will also be used to update Jackling’s library. Broderick said many of the books in the library have been there since the school opened in 1968. The rest of the money will be used for common assessment software which the school will integrate into the current technology the school already has.

Broderick said Jackling received the software in December, and has already started using it. The software works to identify individual students that are not grasping the topic being tested. Students have response pads or clickers to answer specific questions. The data is transmitted to the teacher’s iPad to show which students need more help.

This can also be applied to teachers as well. Broderick said if an entire grade level takes the same assessment, the data will show which teacher had the highest number of students that answered correctly. This allows teachers to share which teaching methods work and how they can more successful.

“Instead of spending an entire day with a class helping a few students out with a concept, the common assessments will identify the children that need more help so they can learn the concept as well as the other students,” Broderick said. “We can’t just move on; we have to make sure all our kids are understanding the concepts we are teaching so they can move on to the next concept.”

Jackling currently has three sets of student response pads. Broderick said he hopes to be able to provide a set for each grade level in the future.

Robert Frost Elementary used the money Discover Card provided in 2011 to purchase interactive white boards and other technology to engage students. This year’s donation will be used for math manipulatives, which help students explore essential math concepts and learn them easier.

Principal Dona Harris said the remaining money will be used for wish list items from Frost’s teachers. She hopes to be able to provide items like software and microscopes from that list.

“We don’t have a lot of extra funding that comes in to help students and staff get what they need,” Harris said. “Having Discover Card as a partner is a huge help to our school.”

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