Townsend Tigers get new technology

Students, teachers and parents at Townsend Elementary have 40 new computers to use as resources for helping students learn and assisting parents who need computer access for job skills or to seek employment.

Principal Steve Stout traveled to Nashville Friday, Sept. 16, to pick up the computers from the Tennessee Department of Education.

The new principal said that earlier this school year, he emailed the state department of education regarding surplus computers. “I sent an email explaining our situation and why we needed them and received a return email saying they allotted us 40,” he said. “Our classroom computers are old, and we needed to replace them. In addition, I wanted to set up a parent resource center.”

Stout said a lot parents in the community are job hunting or don’t have use of a computer. When the parent resource section of the library is set up with a computer, the parents will be allowed to sign in to use a computer. “We’re looking at having a set in the library that has programs and information that will be helpful to parents. A lot of our kid’s parents don’t have Internet connections or access at home, and this gives them the opportunity to use the computer,” he said.

The bulk of the refurbished computers will be for students to use. “We are in desperate need of technology. The county supplied us with 25 computers in our new computer lab that we have set up, and they provide headphones,” Stout said. “We’re also doing training in grades K-fifth on basic computer skills. Jane Pate has done a wonderful job with our lab helping students to learn basic computer skills like using the key board or using a mouse. With those 25 computers and now the 40 we just received from the state education department, we’ll have kids who will be more technologically advanced than they were in the past.”

Stout said the flat screen computers are refurbished and once the county puts the appropriate programs on each one, they will be ready to use. Townsend isn’t the only school getting the free computers. “Mary Blount Elementary is getting 60,” he said.

Stout said community businesses are also working together to beef up technology at the school. “We are trying to raise money to purchase two more Smart Boards at $3,900 a piece for a whole set,” he said. Two boards already purchased will be arriving soon that were paid for by the PTO.

Stout said former principal Dr. John Dalton helped make the Smart Boards on order a reality. “This has a lot to do with Dr. Dalton who had this in place,” he said. “I came in and was given money he helped raise with the PTO last year. All of this has been a community effort, and John was a big part of that the past four or five years.”

Stout said the community is supporting the school in a big way. Area businesses are sponsoring individual classrooms at $150 each. The Foothills Kiwanis is raising money for the school. In addition, Dave Bennett with Cherokee Millwright and Richard Maples with Smoky Mountain Log Homes are frying Twinkies and barbecuing bacon during the Townsend Days events this weekend, with all the money raised donated to Townsend Elementary.

The Blount County Education Foundation also provided mini-grant money for education materials and to purchase a new digital camera for the school.

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