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Jefferson Elementary adds classroom technology thanks to Alcoa Foundation grant

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MASSENA - Teachers at Jefferson Elementary School will now have “more tools in their toolbox” thanks a grant from the Alcoa Foundation, according to Principal Duane L. Richards.

Mr. Richards and Alcoa Communications and Public Affairs Manager Laurie A. Marr announced during Thursday’s board of education meeting that Jefferson Elementary had received a $53,000 grant to install Smart Board technology in every classroom.

Altogether, the Alcoa Foundation awarded $301,000 in grants to seven local organizations, according to Ms. Marr.

Mr. Richards said that it’s a case of have and have not for some teachers at Jefferson Elementary School. While some have the Smart Board technology, others are still without. But that’s taken care of thanks to the Alcoa Foundation grant.

He said a friend told him about the grant opportunity, and he got his teachers together to go through the application process.

Mr. Richards and the group of teachers collaborated on a proposal to increase the level of student engagement and learning opportunities by purchasing and installing Smart Boards and projectors in every classroom.

The teachers work so hard to do what they do. They need the tools to put in their tool box,” he said. “The Smart Board technology makes it easier for teachers to bring the physical world into their classrooms and create lessons that are vibrant, interactive and easy to understand.”

Twenty-three classrooms will have the equipment after it’s phased in over a two-year period, he said.

Ms. Marr said the Alcoa Foundation had narrowed the focus of its grants to the environment and education, and the grant to Jefferson aligns with one of the key focus areas, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education.

Mr. Richards invited Ms. Marr and an information technology representative working at Alcoa to visit the school to observe a classroom with technology.

“What struck me the most was the level of engagements of the students in that classroom,” she said. “Their proposal perfectly aligned with the objectives of the foundation. I think this is going to be great for the school.”

The Alcoa Foundation also awarded $120,000 for Clarkson University’s “Mytholympic Games,” a program for academically-talented students modeled after the popular Myth Busters television show.

In addition, they awarded $38,500 for the St. Lawrence County Community Development program, which runs the county’s Neighborhood Centers. That will allow them to develop a tracking system for food pantry users to ensure as many needy families as possible are benefiting from the program and to create a nutrition and healthy cooking program.

Another $18,047 was awarded to the Friends of the Robert Moses State Park Nature Center to fund the “Mind, Body & Soul – Come Alive!” program, which will provide outdoor-related physical and creative opportunities to help participants improve their health and develop an interest in the environment.

In addition, payments were made on multi-year grants to Massena Memorial Hospital Foundation, $40,000 for a cardiac monitoring system; Canton-Potsdam Hospital Foundation, $16,453 to support the geo-thermal component of its new cancer treatment center; and $15,000 to the St. Lawrence/North Country Communication Foundation to support the FISHCAP economic development program.

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