$20,000 grant helps C.A.S.A. go high-tech

By Emily Le Coz/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Elementary students participating in this year’s Church After School Association program will have access to new laptops and tablet computers thanks to a grant from the E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation.
The $20,000 grant, awarded in July, funded the purchase of 12 MacBooks and eight iPads which will serve as instructional tools for children in the after-school program.
“All of our sites have Internet access, and we’ll be able to use the computers to pull up homework assignments and help them with tutoring,” said Cathy Fitzpatrick, who serves on the C.A.S.A. board of directors and was president at the time of the grant application.
Students in kindergarten through second grade will have access to the iPads, which are loaded with educational games geared toward building math and reading skills. Those in third through fifth grades will have access to the laptops for computer training and homework help.
Sixth-graders already have laptops issued by the Tupelo Public School District, which resumes classes today after the summer break.
“We’re going to set it up as a center so they can choose it from among other activities,” said C.A.S.A. Director April Nunnelee. “We’ll have someone with the children at all times to make sure they use good behavior and do what they’re supposed to.”
Children excitedly helped test the new equipment during the last day of C.A.S.A.’s summer program Monday.
Eight-year-old Emma Gray drew a rainbow on her iPad while William Robinson, also 8, played a fish game on his.
Other students swapped tips about the games they’d found and asked questions about how to perform certain functions.
“It’s cool,” said 8-year-old Reed Murphree.
But it’s also educational. And Fitzpatrick said she hopes the cool factor will encourage the children to keep learning even after the school bell rings.
“How fortunate are we to live in a community that affords these opportunities,” she said.
emily.lecoz@journalinc.com