St. Anthony Donates Nearly $50,000 to Effingham Unit 40 for New Technology

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Published on March 5 2014 9:35 pm
Written by Wayne Moran

St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital has been part of the Effingham community for over 138 years, serving area families through exceptional health care.

Now, St. Anthony’s is extending its support for the community and its youngest residents by contributing $49,400 to Effingham Community Unit School District #40 to help educate students through technology and alleviate some of the financial burden on the school district’s limited funds.

(Early Learning Center Principal Jennifer Fox and St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital Hospital President and CEO Theresa Rutherford spends some time with students Taylor Sidwell and Max Buzzard in an iPad Lab at the Early Learning Center)

According to Mark Doan, Superintendent of Effingham Community Unit School District #40, the hospital’s donation will be used to purchase additional iPads® for use at the Early Learning Center (ELC), the Effingham Junior High, Southside School, and Central Grade School. The school district currently has iPad “labs” (a mobile cart with 30 iPads that teachers can reserve for classroom use). The funds donated by St. Anthony’s will allow the school district to purchase and outfit four iPad labs for use in the schools.

Doan shared, “During initial conversations, we thought St. Anthony’s contribution would only be able to benefit the Early Learning Center this year. But thanks to the hospital’s generosity, it can provide assistance to four schools, allowing us to integrate technology into the classrooms on a more regular basis,” he said.

Theresa Rutherford, President and CEO of St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital, explained why the hospital decided to make this contribution. “As a not-for-profit hospital, one of our focuses is always on benefitting our community – what do we give back? I have heard a lot about the deficit that the school district was facing and that concerned me, because little children are the future of our community and of St. Anthony’s, as our workforce and our patients. So I approached Mr. Doan about how we could collaborate and help meet their needs,” she said.

It was during conversations between Doan and Rutherford that the idea of donating funds for iPads for the ELC developed. “When Mr. Doan suggested the iPads, I felt we really could support that because of the focus on technology and alternative learning methods. We use computers many times to educate ourselves about health information. Health care also uses technology through evidence-based medicine, Computerized Physician Order Entry, electronic patient records, and so on,” she explained. “If we give children easier access to technology, they will be more comfortable as adults using technology to manage their health care.”

Doan explained how the iPads assist the teachers in educating young people. “The iPads supplement curriculum taught by the teachers. It doesn’t take the place of instruction, but it complements and enhances it,” he said. “The iPads help us adapt to the different learning styles of our students as well as reiterate what they are taught through a different medium. In addition, the technological knowledge level of kids today is much more advanced than in the past. This donation provides us with another means to keep challenging our students.”

(Unit 40 Board Member Laurie King gets a first-hand look at Early Learning Center students using the iPads similar to those funded by St. Anthony's Memorial Hospital)

Jennifer Fox, Principal of the Early Learning Center (ELC) and Early Childhood Special Education in Effingham Community Unit #40, shared how the iPads are used in the classroom setting at the ELC. Fox explained, "We use the iPads for a variety of learning opportunities including writing, reading, illustrating, and solving. Students are able to apply skills and demonstrate understanding through the use of various iPad applications. They are also able to practice developing foundational skills such as number and letter concepts,” she said. “They are also used to differentiate instruction. For instance, during a lesson, a teacher may enrich a student's education by having them use an iPad application to take the math skill to a more difficult level. Likewise, she might have a student work on an iPad to reteach or develop prerequisite skills with which the student is struggling,” Fox explained.

The iPads are also used for behavioral intervention. Fox shared, “We have created several social stories featuring students making positive choices or modeling appropriate kindergarten behavior. The students are able to watch those samples and try to improve their own behavior,” she said. “Overall, the iPads are an excellent resource to improve the quality of education our students receive.”

Investing in education was something that Rutherford could easily support, with her passion for lifetime learning. “Personally I have always benefitted from increased education through my career and I encourage it with young people I encounter because it can help you so much in your life. It seemed to me to be a logical investment,” she said. “It is my hope that this is just a start and we are able to expand this program into the local parochial schools as well.”

Doan expressed his deep appreciation for the support the school district has received from St. Anthony’s Memorial Hospital. “It is truly a blessing that allows us to meet the needs of our students in our schools. We desire to keep our schools at the highest possible level so that they can succeed academically, now and in the future. This donation helps us to accomplish that goal,” he said. “The support for education in our county is remarkable. It is important to share times like this when the support for our school and our schoolchildren is demonstrated by outstanding partners like St. Anthony’s. Their generosity benefits not only our schools but our community as a whole.”