Bend-La Pine Schools Superintendent Ron Wilkinson announced one of the largest financial gifts from an individual in district history at Tuesday's school board meeting -- one that will put iPads in the hands of more young learners in a recently announced pilot program.
“I am pleased to share news of a more than $250,000 donation to the Education Foundation for Bend-La Pine Schools from Chuck Shepard, his family and the great people at Hoodoo,” Wilkinson said.
“Thanks to their commitment to education and belief in our continued commitment to success for every student, we can expand Phase 1 of our Digital Conversion Pilot from five schools to seven,” he said.
In July, the school district kicked off the pilot with the announcement that High Lakes, Juniper, and Rosland elementary schools, as well as Mountain View and Summit high schools, would participate.
Thanks to the Hoodoo donation, the pilot will expand to include Buckingham and Lava Ridge elementary schools.
Shay Mikalson, the district's executive director for curriculum and instructional technology, says the pilot will allow the district to track and evaluate seven unique models that utilize technology to implement personalized learning in grades 3-12 that ensure students are making marked progress toward their education goals.
This fall, nearly 3,000 students in the pilot will receive iPad devices loaded with interactive textbooks and learning resources that can be accessed any time, anywhere, and without the need to connect to a wireless Internet connection.
“Digital Conversion has the power to profoundly change the nature of teaching and learning by going far beyond traditional learning modalities,” Mikalson said. “It supports second-order change by enabling a fundamental shift across all aspects of daily life in our schools.”
Hoodoo owner and CEO Chuck Shepard said he embraces the idea of digital conversion and sees this donation as an investment in the future.
“We’re excited by the digital conversion and think the most important skill students can learn today is to embrace change,” said Shepard. “We believe we all have a responsibility to Bend-La Pine Schools to show our appreciation for a job well done and to show our faith in the district’s vision by investing in this pilot – we are thrilled to have an opportunity to be a part of such an exciting journey.”
Shepard says he is optimistic that the donation will benefit both students and the community as a whole.
“As a local company who hires more than 90 percent of our workforce from Central Oregon, we directly benefit from quality education -- both because our workforce is obviously more well-educated and because it makes Central Oregon more livable, attracting families we want as employees, neighbors and customers,” Shepard said.
Shepard said he hopes to inspire other businesses to get involved in their local schools through similar partnerships that give students the tools that they need to succeed.
“Hoodoo would like to see other companies in the area match or exceed our donation,” he said. “We’re grateful for the way the community has supported our business, and we hope other companies will follow suit.”