Free computers bring educational technology to Humble student homes
Light emanating from dozens of computer screens illuminated the rapt faces of students sitting in the Lakeland Elementary School cafeteria Saturday, May 6.
ExxonMobil volunteers and Comp-U-Dopt representatives knelt beside students, guiding them through the variety of educational programs that had been pre-installed on the free computers these nearly 50 students and their families would take home that day.
Comp-U-Dopt’s Computer Adoption Program refurbishes gently used corporate computers to donate to children whose families do not have a home computer. These children are identified through Comp-U-Dopt’s partnership with schools in and around the greater Houston area.
“Today, what we’re doing at Lakeland is training students on our computers,” said Colin Dempsey, Comp-U-Dopt representative. “We bring our laptops in to train them and when they leave today, they’ll leave with a desktop to take home.”
This was the first time Comp-U-Dopt held a computer giveaway event for an Humble school, and Lakeland Elementary School second-grade teacher Kathy Beck was delighted at the opportunity it provided to students.
“It is neat because a lot of these kids are not able to do a lot of these things - Istation, Starfall, and ABCya - at home because they don’t have (computers,)” Beck said.
In order to be eligible to receive a computer, a student’s family must not have a working home computer. Additionally, applicants had to fill out necessary paperwork and write a composition explaining what a computer would mean to them and their families.
All of the students who applied for this first Comp-U-Dopt giveaway received computers.
“We add a ton of educational software,” Dempsey said. “There are typing games, math games; there’s an interactive periodic table on there. Basically, we want them to be able to use the computer, so they wouldn’t have to travel to the library or stay late at school, and they could get their stuff done at home.”
Jasmine Harris recently assumed the responsibilities of a caregiver for her niece and nephew. Harris grew up in a family that stressed the importance of education.
“It definitely means a lot, especially given the situation,” Harris said. “The kids are very smart and so educationally driven. My niece loves to read and loves computers. She loves going to the library.”
With Harris’ work schedule, she said it’s often difficult to make it to the library within the hours of operation in order for the kids to have computer access.
“This will definitely bring more educational activities into our household,” Harris said. “They can work more on their reading, or my little nephew can work on sight words, things like that. It’s going to bring a lot of teamwork because it will help to extend teaching into the home.
“That’s how I kind of look at it. Teachers are kind of the moms during the day, and you’ve got to extend it to when you get home: do homework, make sure you understand the reading assignment. Education is a big factor in my family. The school doing this for any child, it just means a lot to us.”
This summer, Comp-U-Dopt will have donated approximately 10,000 computers to children in and around the greater Houston area.
According to Beck, there may be another Comp-U-Dopt event in the works for Lakeland Elementary in October.
Approximately 15 ExxonMobil employees volunteered during the event, setting up the laptops and helping kids follow along during training.
This was not the first time Exxon employee David Caplan has volunteered with Comp-U-Dopt.
“I had personally done this through my alumni organization previously, and I help organize community service events for Exxon, so I connected our group with theirs,” Caplan said. “As a volunteer, it’s a great experience. It’s really rewarding because you get to actively help the way you always do in community service, but then at the end of it, you get to actually give them something they get to take home, keep and learn from.”
For more information about Lakeland Elementary, visit http://www.humbleisd.net/lle.
To learn more about Comp-U-Dopt, visit www.compudopt.org.