PATERSON, NJ - Nahid, Leilany, Mayesha, and Emadul are all Paterson children that had to face the challenge of learning outside the classroom as their schools were shuttered from mid-March in a battle against coronavirus.

Nahid, 5, set for first grade in September, missed his teacher so much, his mother said, that he wrote her a letter to let her know. Leilany, heading into 6th grade, told TAPinto Paterson that she believes she learns better when she is with a teacher who can “talk her through,” schoolwork. Mayesha, an incoming freshman at JFK High School, had to study on the small screen of her phone. 

While each, with a lot of support from their family, made it through, all agreed September will now be a lot easier thanks to the generosity of the New Jersey Community Development Corporation (NJCDC) that led an effort to put Chromebooks in their hands. On Friday, the Great Falls area non-profit distributed 165 of the devices. These came on top of the more than 250 previously distributed, including to Emadul, in May. 

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“We always try to address the most critical needs of our community,” NJCDC Founder and CEO Bob Guarasci said when asked about the effort. “We know that kids without a device are at a distinct disadvantage, and we want Paterson’s students to have every opportunity to continue their education.

Also attending the event was Mayor Andre Sayegh who thanked the NJCDC for doing their part to bridge the “diploma divide” while also commending the efforts of Paterson Public Schools to accommodate all students in the fall by making sure that they are “well-prepared and well-equipped.”

On Thursday, Governor Phil Murphy announced that New Jersey would itself spend $115 million to make sure every New Jersey student is outfitted with a device and wifi. 

It wasn’t only the students that had to adjust to learning outside the classroom, two mothers said. Mother of three Nazma said that she couldn’t work, and that she remains worried about the lack of a regular routine. Just moments later Leilany’s mom, Nurnessa, admitted that she found it a challenge to “stay on top of” her daughter’s schooling. 

Emadul said that he couldn't afford to replace his aging laptop and the new device gave him an opportunity to not only finish his senior year, but also be better prepared for his transition to college as a computer science major. 

The generosity of NJCDC, as well as several donors, including the Daleo Family, Florio Management, and Price Rite, that helped make the giveaway possible also taught him an important lesson, he said.

“It just takes a little bit to make a lot of lives better.”

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