Charity Haygood, the principal of Avon Avenue School in Newark, received a welcome surprise today from Mike Rowe, the onetime host of Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs, who donated 125 Chromebook laptops for her to distribute to students at the school.
Haygood was featured on a special episode of Rowe's Returning the Favor COVID-19 miniseries, which runs on Facebook Watch, a video on-demand sevice operated by the social media giant.
Typically, Rowe travels around the country to interview inspiring people who are giving back to their community. But the show recently changed its focus to people who are involved in coronavirus initiatives.
Unable to travel because of COVID-19 restrictions, Rowe and his crew did the episode virtually.
In the episode, Rowe connects with Haygood, who is seen on a home-made video delivering Chromebooks and work packets to her students at Avon Avenue School. Newark Schools have been closed since March 16 in an effort to slow the spread of the virus.
Many students in Newark live in homes without broadband internet access. Only 68 percent of homes in the city have broadband internet subscription between 2014-18, according to the U.S. Census. The situation is even more dire at Avon Avenue School.
In the video, Haygood tells Rowe "96 percent of her students do not have devices that will allow online learning or internet access."
"We know the education gap - I would actually call it a societal gap - is so huge between our black and brown children and so we're already way far behind. We can't afford to be any further behind," Haygood said. "So I just said, 'I'll do it.' I got this big yellow Jeep and if the police pull me over I'll just say, 'sorry, I'm just going to deliver this little Chromebook."
After Haygood told Rowe she was 125 Chromebook shy of making sure every student had a laptop at home, Rowe revealed to her that he would donate the laptops, worth about $25,000.
"We have these amazing teachers, paraprofessionals and substitutes and I promise they will help be get every one out," Haygood said.
Watch the episode: