SPARTA, NJ – In the tenth year since its founding the Sparta Education Foundation is still going strong and fulfilling its mission of supporting the Sparta public schools. The total amount awarded to the schools has been more than $657,000.  Earlier this month three technology grants were approved.

The Sparta High School English Department applied and received 180 Chromebook computers.  The Helen Morgan grant was for 12 Sphero 2.0 robotics balls and nine Epson document cameras.

“The technology goals for our district are greatly enhanced by three recent grants which will help students develop their analytical, problem-solving and critical thinking skills,” said Dorothy LaBeau, President of the Sparta Education Foundation.

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“These valuable education tools, from the interactive use of Chromebooks for the high school’s English Department to the programming knowledge provided by the Sphero balls and upgraded technology of the document cameras,” said LaBeau “help teachers meet the New Jersey Educational Technology standards which include Research and Information Literacy, Technology Operations and Concepts, and Communication and Collaboration.”

The Chromebooks will be used by students in their English classes supporting the Google in the Classroom initiative.  Students will do their research, write paper, conduct group-work through online discussion, take quizzes and tests and participate in peer review.  They will also have the opportunities to create websites and author blogs.  Google Apps for Education will provides a number resources to support students and teachers, as well as reduces the use of paper.

Mary Hassenplug, English Supervisor said, "The English Department is grateful to the SEF for their generous grant for computers in all English classrooms at the high school. Their availability will change the nature of research, expand writing for authentic audiences, and increase exploration of visual texts. We look forward to the creative ways our teachers will enhance the curriculum through their use."

The Sphero Robotics Balls will be used to support the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math or STEM curriculum for fourth and fifth grade students in the Gifted and Talented program at Helen Morgan.  In September the plan is to roll them out for use in the classrooms during activity times and for the after school program.  

The Sphero will allow student to learn about programming.  It is an app-enabled robotic ball, according to the Sparta Education Foundation, that can be controlled by an iPad, iPod, smartphone or tablet.    

The document cameras will serve to enhance the technology in the classroom, especially in math and English.  They will allow teachers to incorporate more texts and manipulatives in their lessons, according to the foundation.

Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Staff Development, Dr Daniel Johnson said, "We are continually thankful to have such a wonderful organization such as the Sparta Education Foundation working to provide for the students of the Sparta School District.  These technology grants help us maintain our technology goals in an era of tight budgets and tough choices.  The additions provided through these grants strengthen our current initiatives for online classrooms, as well as bringing STEM to the younger grades.  We remain grateful, and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship with the SEF."

The Sparta Education Foundation gives nearly all of the money raised back to the school.  According to the organizations' publications they do not have any paid staff members nor do they have office space to support.  The foundations signature events, the Turkey Trot and Dragon Boat Festival, have become a part of the Sparta community, even getting participation from beyond the township.