St. Sabina Academy simply followed advice from the Bible’s Book of Habakkuk when it came to acquiring laptop computers, says Principal Helen Dumas.
In the book, God told a prophet to “write the vision.” At the South Side school, that took the form of a technology plan, she says.
The school forged ahead, retrofitting the school for wireless Internet access in the hope that someday it could buy a laptop for each teacher.
Then, Seton Academy in South Holland called.
In 2006, Seton became the first Chicago Archdiocese school to provide all of its students with laptops.
The program created a problem for Seton: too many computers. As the school bought more new computers, it accumulated a bunch of older ones.
Although the older computers were not particularly helpful to Seton students, they work well for elementary school teachers, who need computers for Internet access, grading and presentations.
So, last summer Seton administrators launched a new Technology Partnership Program, which gives the computers to elementary schools.
St. Sabina is the first school to benefit.
“When we got the call, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s the power of the Holy Spirit,”’ Dumas says.
Seton donated 35 laptops and a projector. It also provided free training for teachers, some of whom were more comfortable with a pen-and-paper grading system.
“The old grade books is out,” says Anthony McKenna, Seton’s director of admissions. “From now on, it’s on computers.”
Before the Seton acquisition, St. Sabina teachers had to check out one of the school’s three laptops for Internet presentations. There was often a waiting list, and teachers had to work around each other’s lesson plans, Dumas says.
St. Sabina language arts teacher Deborah Hodo says her new laptop computer saves her about two hours of work a day.
While she had access to four desktop computers in her classroom, she rarely used them, since so many times the printers would temporarily break or lose their Internet connections.
So she kept grades in a book, instead of on a computer. And that meant calculating percentages for grades herself, which was a time consuming endeavor, she says.
She now keeps grades on the laptop, which runs automatic calculations for her.
If the printer doesn't work or she can't get Internet access, she just hooks up to another printer or moves to another part of the building where the Internet signal is stronger.
And she can show her students computerized presentations anytime she wants.
"My life is so much simpler," Hodo says. "I'm so happy about it, you'd think they'd given me a million dollars."