I teach at Chamberlin Elementary. I have taught in the Stephenville Independent School District for more than 25 years. I began teaching before classroom computers were in vogue, and I'll be frank, the first time one was placed in my classroom I remember thinking, “How ridiculous! These things will never be used productively in a first or 2nd grade classroom!” As the years went by and computer programs were introduced and data was upgraded to target specific learner skills, my mind has changed. In fact, I am ashamed to admit that I ever questioned their validity in instruction!
Research and common sense tells us that children achieve more if they are actively involved in learning, and the more minutes per day a child is actively participating in the learning process, the more effective that learning will be. While computers can never replace a teacher's emotion or enthusiasm in the classroom, they can certainly keep each student engaged interactively for certain types of instruction.
I love our schools! I love the old buildings that have character and charm. They have seen many children walk through their hallowed halls, and there are many sweet memories in every room. It would be a very sad day, indeed, to see them go. But it is time.
It is time for many good reasons, but I will address this one: We need more computers in our classrooms at Chamberlin Elementary. For the federally mandated remedial program that I teach, I need a computer for every child. The teachers at Central Elementary need more computers to administer these same kinds of programs. And in many instances, computers are available. Funding is available. But electrical wiring capability is not.
On both of these older campuses, there is an alarming lack of electrical capability for each room simply because the electrical systems are so old. Because of the ingenuity of the teachers and administrators in our district we are administering excellent programs for our Pre-K through 2nd grade, but at this point we are compromising the level of instruction a child could be receiving because of out-dated wiring. By your choice to vote “no” on the upcoming bond election, you are deliberately taking a step back in time and saying, “What we have is good enough.”
This is a passionate letter, because I am passionate about the children who walk through our halls. I see their little hands. And I always wonder, “What will these little hands do someday?” In no way am I wealthy monetarily. But I am willing to vote yes on this bond election because I value a different sort of wealth. I value the kind that comes years down the road when I get a letter from a TSU education major (thanks, H.G.) who took the time to write and thank me for encouraging her as a reader when she was in 2nd grade. That encouragement came about as a result of a computer program called Accelerated Reader.
I encouraged her, but it was her achievement as a Super Reader in AR that motivated this bright little girl into very simply believing in herself while providing the reading practice she needed in order to succeed. No reading program I have ever seen is capable of producing more dramatic effects in reading achievement than this appropriately administered computer program! Her achievement was accomplished because we are moving forward into the next century in education, and resources are available that allow students to be super stars in education! We just need the capability of accessing those resources, and at present we are falling farther and farther behind because of old, out-moded facilities. What we have is not good enough.