The computer lab at Aldama Elementary in Highland Park is packed with 33 aging and overloaded computers that keep crashing. Not only is the Highland Park school in need of new machines, its teachers also need help showing them how best to use computers and technology to complement their classroom lessons. That’s why a group of Aladma parents and supporters are on a mission to upgrade the computer lab and raise $20,000 by August to to hire a computer-savvy, full-time instructor for the center.
“Despite the huge emphasis on technology, our public schools are seriously behind in infrastructure,” said Aldama parent Janelle McGlothlin. “It’s 100% incumbent on the teacher to take their 25-30 students into the lab and create a lesson plan for them. If you’re not super computer savvy, that’s a really tough undertaking.”
In addition to getting more powerful computers donated from corporations, school supporters are also seeking funds to hire a full-time teacher for the computer lab who will develop lesson plans tailored to different ages of students and also work with teachers to integrate technology more broadly into their classroom lessons. It’s part of an L.A. Unified program called ComputerWise Kids, which costs $43,000 a year to operate.
The Highland Park school has already committed $20,000 to the program, and parents and supporters are trying to raise the balance before August with a June 1 Bites for Bytes fundraiser featuring A Taste of Highland Park.
In addition to Bites for Bytes, the Aldama parents have also applied for corporate grants and have approached other donors, said McGlothlin. “We could do fewer days for less money, but that would mean some kids would miss out.”
Kindergarten teacher Lacey Jung explains the importance of keeping the school computers and computer education up to date:
It is so important for all of our students to be equipped with strong computer experiences and literacy skills from a young age. The world is so technologically different than it was 20 years ago, ten years ago, five years ago, one year ago … Our children will soon be entering higher educational experiences and work places dependent on technology that is not yet available to us.
It is so important for us as a school community to recognize the need for rigorous computer education and to begin to give our students the tools and critical thinking skills needed in order to be successful in grappling and mastering these future technologies. The introduction and strong emphasis on computer education and literacy for all of our students is our responsibility as a school. It is imperative in moving our children into the 21st century.
The Bites for Bytes fundraiser will be held on June 1. Click here for details.