St. Benedict’s School has employed a creative method to raise money for the technology it needs to meet today’s challengers.
The elementary and junior high school raised $15,000 and hopes to clear at least $10,000 in a recently completed ceremonial brick campaign that will commemorate the donors inside the main entrance to the school building.
The funding, mostly from alumni but also from teachers, will be used to purchase more Chromebook laptop computers for instructional purposes, said Ray Vitiello, St. Benedict’s School principal.
The thirty-five carts and devices will be provided to teachers on each floor of the school as a result of the brick campaign, said the principal.
Vitiello said that Benjamin Piacquadio, a social studies teacher who pitched him the idea along with all of the junior high teachers at St. Benedict’s, spearheaded the effort.
“We are always looking for innovative ways to raise money for our school with the hopes of bringing better technology or more advanced technology into this school,” said Vitiello.
The computers will provide students with additional capabilities to link to various websites related to the topics they are learning about while they remain in their own classrooms, said the principal.
One aspect in using computers in teaching is that they allow for the collection of data via learning platforms that can show teachers how individual students are performing in terms of meeting predetermined standards, said Piacquadio.
Individual teachers can monitor, for example, which students were performing well or not up to standards in multiple areas of Common Core Standards, and teach based on the what the data is showing.
Piacquadio said that this allows for ‘differentiated instruction,’ where teaching can be tailored to individual student needs by providing different avenues to learning.
“We got to keep up with the ever-changing world of technology,” said the principal, explaining in previous times the school had a computer lab, but that now, computers are in the classroom
Piacquadio wrote to alumni as part of the fundraiser, and worked creatively with Donna Miller, a graduate of the school who has helped create a database of alums with contact information.
“Ben contacted me and told me that he had organized this campaign,” said Miller, adding “I emailed people and forwarded a letter from the principal about this campaign and added my own.”
Miller said that in addition to e-mailing the St. Benedict graduates in her database, which includes some 1,200-school alums, she mailed written hard copy letters to about 100 selected alumni regarding the commemorative bricks.
“We are thankful for the generous support of the alumni,” she said.
In addition to Miller’s efforts, St. Benedict first grade teacher Jeanette Chin helped by calling alumni and answering their questions about the brick campaign, according to Piacquadio.
Two benches will also be installed below the wall near the bricks, said the principal.
One was donated by an alumni who now lives in Hawaii and another from St. Benedict faculty and staff members who provided $2,000 in support, said Vitiello.
The principal is still looking for a craftsman to install the bricks, he said, which have names of students and their graduation dates, as well as other appropriate messages.
A dedication ceremony, featuring a reception for donors, may take place in late May, said the principal.