Brayton School Receives $35,000 in Donations Toward iPad Program

By Tammy DanielsiBerkshires Staff
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Jaana Mutka, left, Principal John Franzoni, Tiffany Fletcher of BJ's and Marie Nejaime-McCarron pose with a big check on Tuesday that will go to Brayton School's iPad initiative. The school also received a $25,000 donation from former North Adams resident Stephen Drotter.

NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Brayton Elementary School has received a $35,000 boost in technology thanks to donations from BJ's Wholesale and a former resident connected to the school system.

Stephen Drotter, son of late Drury High School Principal Stephen J. Drotter, donated $25,000 as memorial to his wife, Lynn Whitney Dion Drotter.

The two donations will afford about 50 iPads for Brayton as well as technical support and teacher training.

"We've been trying to reach out to community partners and alumni and any source we can for funding to help us upgrade our technology at Brayton," Principal John Franzoni told the School Committee on Tuesday night.

One of those sources was BJ's, the other his uncle, Drotter.

"My uncle and I had conversations this summer about the needs of our students at Brayton and he wanted to provide this donation to Brayton to help students read more effectively so that they could discover a love for reading that was extremely important to Lynn," he said.

Lynn Drotter, who died this past spring, had attended Brayton Elementary School. Her husband could not attend Tuesday's meeting but Franzoni read a short missive from him about how Lynn's teachers at Brayton had instilled a lifelong love of reading.

"Reading guided her through a rich and prosperous life. We are sponsoring these iPads in the hope that as many children as possible will learn to read and benefit from it as Lynn did," Drotter wrote.

The BJ's donation came from the school's application to the company's Adopt-A-School Program. Franzoni said the application had input from fourth-grade teachers Marie Nejaime-McCarron and Jaana Mutka, as well as Erica Manville and Karen Cellana.

Tiffany Fletcher of BJ's said it was the 20th year of the company's school program, so it determined to select five schools to award $10,000. The company has donated more than $1.9 million to schools in the 15 states its located in the last 20 years.

"I sent letters out to every single school thorughout ... from Cheshire to Bennington, Hinsdale ... every school I could think of," she said. "And I'm really happy you were chosen, I'm so excited for you."

C.T. Plunkett School received a $2,500 grant. The other schools were in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Florida. Watch the video made by Brayton here.

A third donation this week came in the form of 12 workstations from Williams College.

Superintendent James Montepare noted that the district had eliminated its technology integration specialist more than a year ago in part because of budgetary needs.

"We also wanted to take a good hard look and repurpose how we use technology in the public schools," he said. Rather than rely on computer labs for limited time period, "we wanted something that the kids were immersed in all day long.

"Our intent is to make workstations in the classroom with computer labs moving toward applications."

The elementary schools have been working with Williams College on an iPad initiative, and Diane Ryczek, who spearheaded the laptop initiative as principal of the former Conte Middle School, has been hired as coordinator of teacher mentoring and applied technology.

"We're looking to bring back that excitement of one-on-one integrated technology," said Montepare.

The School Committee accepted a total of $1,879,595.40 in grant funding for programs ranging from full-day kindergarten to Title 1 to an Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts science grant. Business Manager Nancy Ziter had also secured $71,956 to upgrade Brayton's wiring.

In other business, the committee:

Approved the Drury High marching band trip to Washington, D.C., next July to march in the Independence Day parade. Band director Chris Caproni said efforts are made to ensure every student can go; the trip also includes visits to historical and educational attractions. About 50-60 students, including graduated seniors, participate each year.

Approved the senior class trip to High Meadows in Granby, Conn., where the high school has gone for a number of years. The cost is $50 per student but there will be fundraisers, such as the ongoing bottle drive.

Endorsed a recommendations made by the Berkshire County Education Task Force on further research into collaborative models.

The committee also addressed a rumor (among many) about the safety of the nearly completed Colegrove Park Elementary School. Committee member Mark Moulton asked during Mayor Richard Alcombright's update on the school on a rumored failure to apply fire-resistant coatings to the I-beams used in structurally stabilizing the century-old building. (Fire resistance has been part of accepted building code for decades.)

Ziter pointed out that there are numerous inspectors onsite, including the city's building and fire inspectors, the contractor's inspector, state inspectors from the Massachusetts School Building Authority and the city's own project managers.

"Our project manager checks everything for everything," said Montepare, adding that if anything, the school seems overbuilt.

Alcombright said they would ask the project manager on Wednesday to allay any fears.

Tags: Brayton School,   donations,   information technology,   wireless,   

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