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St. Patrick's fast forwards into a new level of technology

Students in Paula Flood's third grade classroom at St. Patrick's School took time out from the snack time to demonstrate the matching math exercise on one of the schools new Promethean ActivBoards. Photo by Margaret Ontl

A collaborative effort made it possible for St. Patrick's principal Mary Piasecki to reach a goal for the school faster than anyone imagined.

The goal was to have what is commonly called a "Smart Board" in every classroom within three years. As of this month they have installed Promethean ActivBoards in all of the classrooms.

"We thought it was going to be a three year goal but it will be done in 18 months," said Tricia Pieper, technical coordinator for St. Patrick's School.

"We chose the brand Promethean because it requires the students to use a 'pen' to work on the board," said Pieper. "It's more natural than using their fingers and it can be a classroom management tool."

"The boards are a lot of money," said Pieper. "It will cost $55,000 to outfit the entire school."

Thanks to an effort that combined, fund-raising, personal donations and grant money, the goal will be reached sooner than expected.

A gala fundraiser, held last year, kicked off the drive with a donation of $16,000. Grants from the Anne Marie Foundation, the Hudson Education Foundation and a family donation, including one from Tom and Janet O'Connell, allowed them to reach the goal and order the boards, the last five of which were installed last week.

"One big advantage is that the kids enjoy the movement," said Pieper. "As a result they pay more attention. There's more of the senses going on."

The Promethean boards also come with an Activotes, it is similar to a remote control. It gives both the teachers and students instant feedback so the teacher can tell whether the students understand a concept or not while they are teaching it.

As a result they can go back over the lesson or tailor the next step towards what the students need to learn.

"Using the Activote the kids motivate each other," said Pieper, who meets once a month with the teachers to share successes and programming ideas.

The complete package for each classroom includes a computer, the Promethean ActivBoard and a projector.

"It is just exciting we can meet all of the kids at their level, where they need to be to learn," said Pieper.