Ranchos Roundup

Smallwood grant brings big update to Pau-Wa-Lu

A Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School student uses one of the new digital whiteboards.

A Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School student uses one of the new digital whiteboards.


Thanks to a generous grant from the Frances C. and William P. Smallwood Foundation, Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School recently outfitted 19 classrooms with new interactive white boards.

PWL 6th grade teachers Julie Michel and Jen Worthington were inspired to apply for funding after assessing the technology needs at PWL last spring. A significant portion of the earlier white boards dated back more than a decade, and rapidly evolving technological advances had outpaced the functionality of the old units.

Michel and Worthington submitted a proposal to the Smallwood Foundation, and PWL received notification of the award over the summer.

New boards were ordered soon afterward and installed during the school’s winter break. Each board came equipped with a computer, keyboard, mouse, and digital camera to make it fully interactive for classroom use.

The response from students was immediate, with many expressing delight at the enhanced visibility of the new boards. Previously, overhead lights had to be dimmed or turned off in order to see what was being projected. Now, images on the boards are bright and clear.

PWL 6th grade teacher Sarah Sparhawk echoed the students’ enthusiasm.

“[The new boards] streamlined our rooms and brought them to the 21st century,” Sparhawk said. “The picture quality and usability are greatly increased…students in the back of the room can now see the boards!”

Worthington said the boards allow for a collaborative, multi-sensory, hands-on learning experience. They operate with touch screen technology, which enables users to pause in the middle of a web page or video screening to make notations, ask pertinent questions, or invite discussion about what’s being presented. When not streaming internet content, the screen functions as a regular whiteboard.

The new technology has been utilized in direct instruction, multi-media lessons, student presentations, and math races.

“Virtual field trips…that’s been huge,” Worthington said, noting the positive impact of the updated technology in Social Studies classes. “Students can explore locations and times such as ancient Egypt or modern-day Rome…it’s a virtual reality view, as if you were right there, and it provides perspective; students can look up at the Parthenon building in Greece and get a sense of its actual size.”

Worthington thanked the Smallwood Foundation and local trustee Suzy Stockdale for their support in making the upgrade possible.

Volunteer opportunities

Volunteers are needed for a “Spring Spruce-Up” at the Douglas County Backpack Buddies, Carson Valley Community Food Closet, and Family Support Council facilities.

The event is scheduled for Saturday, April 10 from 9 a.m. until noon at 1255 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville. Current safety guidelines will be followed.

All three buildings are located next door to one another. Backpack Buddies program volunteer Lin Larson said there will be something for everyone to do, from outdoor pruning and sweeping to a couple of indoor projects.

For more information about the Spring Spruce-Up, contact Larson at 775-267-6737.

Volunteers are also welcome to join Backpack Buddies for their monthly packing date at 9 a.m. on the second Monday of each month. The next event takes place on April 12.

Carson Valley Community Food Closet hosts volunteer orientations the fourth Tuesday of each month from 10:30-11:30 a.m. at 1251 Waterloo Lane in Gardnerville. For more information, log onto www.thefoodcloset.org/help-out.html. send an email to Manager Denise Banes at denise@thefoodcloset.org, or call 775-782-3711.

Amy Roby can be reached at ranchosroundup@hotmail.com.


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