By RICK WATSON
First graders at Shades Cahaba Elementary have a new way to tell where they are having reading problems: by recording and playing back themselves reading on iPads.
“The iPads offer an opportunity to reach children who have various learning styles – kinesthetic, visual and auditory all at once,” said Betsy Crimi, a HHS graduate and current Homewood first grade teacher and resident. “It’s added a whole new aspect to teaching children.”
Elizabeth Stewart’s special education class at Homewood Middle School also uses the iPads. They had used iPods on a trial basis, but the smaller screens were a challenge for the students.
Integrating iPads into lesson plans is part of the new campaign “Build a foundation, be the difference” for the Homewood City Schools Foundation.
“We are so grateful to the Homewood Foundation for making such a difference in the lives of students with special needs in Homewood,” said Stewart.
The foundation’s grants have helped extend the middle school’s award-winning Engineering Through Robotics program to the high school and all three elementary schools. The results are impressive. In the 2010 BEST competition, Homewood Middle School finished second in the state against mostly high school teams. They went on to compete in the regional finals at Auburn University.
Seventh grade math teacher Sherry Putt used a foundation grant to buy tools such as hands-on equations and angle viewers.
Angle viewers, iPads and other learning tools that the foundation supplies are all integrally tied to the larger community.
“The quality of schools is an indicator of the community’s health,” said Jane Marie Marlin, president of the Homewood City Schools Foundation. Research has shown that homes in communities with quality schools sell for a premium.
The people of Homewood understood this connection and decided to start a foundation in 1996 to provide resources to help teachers teach better and children learn better.
In the beginning, the foundation funded mostly big programs and technology projects for classrooms, but the approach has evolved. They now fund a wide range of initiatives that complement work done by the school board.
The foundation’s funding is not only for technology but also to pay for teacher training, self development and other activities.
“This foundation, founded by people and businesses in the Homewood community, has made a huge difference in the classroom,” Crimi said. “I am very proud of our community.”
For more information on Homewood City Schools Foundation, visit www.homewoodcityschoolsfoundation.com.