Grants to help schools upgrade technology

Categories: Around the Diocese

By Dianne Towalski
The Visitor

When students return next fall to St. John’s Area School in Foley, they will see a dramatic upgrade of technology throughout the building — everything from projectors to iPads to AppleTV in each classroom.


Sixth-grade teacher Marlys Van Nevel helps students in the computer lab at St. John’s Area School in Foley. Photo by Dianne Towalski / The Visitor

The school was recently awarded three CenturyLink Teachers and Technology Grants totaling nearly $15,000.

Cathedral High School in St. Cloud also was awarded a $5,000 grant for materials and training for engineering and design classes that will be offered next school year.

Cathedral science teacher Erik Ellingboe applied for the grant to help to expand the school’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) class offerings.

“It is so exciting to see Catholic schools receive grants in technology,” said Linda Kaiser, superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of St. Cloud. “Catholic teachers are so innovative and yet so humble. They truly see the value of integrating technology into the curriculum to help students better understand content. With the constraints of budgets in Catholic schools, this is a blessing.”

The St. John’s teachers — Marlys Van Nevel, sixth grade; Karen Thorsten, kindergarten; and Sandy Anderson, second grade — were awarded grants based on applications they submitted detailing projects they wanted to accomplish and the technology needed.

The grants will provide upgraded technology in three of the school’s seven classrooms, freeing up money to upgrade the other four classrooms as well, said Christine Friederichs, the school’s principal.

“It will benefit the children, it will benefit the school, but I also think it was really empowering for those teachers,” Friederichs said. “They worked very hard for this.”

There is already an Internet-wired computer lab and Wi-Fi in the rural school, which serves about 100 students.

“Right now, I have very little technology in my classroom,” Thorsten said in her grant application. “I want the best for my students, and trying to stay current is not economically easy for our building.”

Thorsten and Anderson will use their grants to purchase projectors, iPads and AppleTV so students can make better use of their Superkids Reading Program. There is a interactive online piece that they are currently not able to use, Anderson said.

Van Nevel’s project, called Geopolitical Dynamics in Minnesota, will help her students develop cultural awareness — an understanding of immigrants and refugees, the cultures they come from and why they have chosen to live in Minnesota.

“My sixth-graders are becoming more aware of current events,” she said. She wants them to be able to go online and do their own research, rather than rely on what others tell them when forming opinions about what is happening in the world.

The Teachers and Technology grants are awarded annually by the CenturyLink Clarke M. Williams Foundation and are designed to help fund projects that advance student success through the innovative use of technology, according to the company’s website. Teachers in public or private pre-K to grade 12 schools located in the company’s residential service areas are eligible to apply.