The Puyallup School District’s Digital Learning program recently received a gracious donation from an office equipment and information technology provider that will ultimately help students graduate on time.
On March 24, Preferred Business Solutions donated 10 Samsung Galaxy 4 tablets, more than enough to serve each of the six students on the waitlist in need of an electronic device to complete online assignments and quizzes from home.
More than 25 percent of students enrolled are lacking a computer device, said Lori Hadley, director of the Digital Learning program.
“Sometimes students don’t tell us they don’t have access,” Hadley said. “Or sometimes they have one, but it’s really slow. So, sometimes we don’t know right away that there is a technology problem. One of the first things we ask them is if they have a reliable computer.”
The two programs under the Digital Learning umbrella are Open Doors, which serves students ages 16 to 21 who have dropped out of high school or are at risk of dropping out, and the Puyallup Online Academy, designed for students who are on target to graduate but aren’t successful within the traditional school model.
Students complete assignments and quizzes online at home. Students in Open Doors visit the South Hill Park campus twice a week to complete tests and check in with in with their core teachers. For students in the Online Academy, it is once a week. On any day of the week, students are also allowed to visit the campus to get help on assignments. For the student without a laptop, this may mean visiting the campus to access a device to complete assignments or visiting the local library to access a device.
In addition to accepting laptop or tablet donations, Hadley said the program also reconfigures old teacher laptops and makes them usable for students.
These kids have had issues in their lives that have made it hard for them to get education. Whatever we can do to remove the barriers is really important to us.
Lori Hadley, director of the Digital Learning program
“When we don’t have enough (computers), we have to put (students) on a waiting list,” Hadley said. “That can really put them behind in their coursework. It’s really important to us to take away all the barriers. These kids have had issues in their lives that have made it hard for them to get education. Whatever we can do to remove the barriers is really important to us.”
Scott Armstrong, sales manager at Preferred Business Solutions’ Tacoma branch, recently learned about the program’s ongoing need for computers in a chance meeting with a Digital Learning staff member at a Puyallup-Sumner Chamber function.
“He said that they were having trouble finding laptops or tablets for their students who couldn’t come into the learning center,” Armstrong said. “I told him we were a Samsung dealer.”
Armstrong promised that he would ask Ron Cox, the owner of Preferred Business Solutions, to donate a minimum of four tablets. Following a visit to the South Hill Park campus, where Cox and Armstrong learned about the program from Hadley, Cox promised to donate 10 tablets and asked if that would be enough.
“Everyone’s jaws dropped,” Armstrong said. “Ron truly believes in giving back to the community and this was a great opportunity.”
Cox, who grew up in South Seattle, was raised by parents who both taught high school in the Seattle and Highline school districts.
I have a soft spot for private and public education.
Ron Cox, owner of Preferred Business Solutions
“I have a soft spot for private and public education,” Cox said. “These 10 tablets will allow students to get their work done and complete their education.”
Hadley said one of the program’s goals is building community awareness and community support. Last November, the program held its inaugural holiday drive to benefit homeless students and teen parents. Best Buy donated one tablet to the drive. A school psychologist donated two tablets.
More than 300 students are enrolled this school year across the two digital learning programs.
“We’ve really grown this year,” Hadley said. “We have worked really hard to spread the word that we’re here, that we’re an option. We want people to know that if things aren’t working in the regular traditional setting that they do have choices.”
Donations of laptops or tablets are accepted at the South Hill Park campus, 716 South Hill Park Drive, Ste. B.
For more information, call 253-841-8630.