When Richard Walo became principal of St. Anselm at the beginning of this school year his goal was to bring it into today’s world.
The first big step came the first Wednesday of March when students chatted on Skype around the world with other students from Croatia, South Africa, Slovenia, and the U.S. during World Read Aloud Day.
Walo sees this as the beginning of a regular international dialogue.
“Skype connects teachers with teachers and students with students in our board and around the world. It makes learning more meaningful and authentic,” he says.
By September, the school’s 75th anniversary, construction will be complete on a new Learning Commons Area (formerly the library) that will offer access to wi-fi and other interactive technology.
Students already have access to LCD projectors, iPads and laptops in their classrooms, as well as Skype, which has become a popular choice for learning.
That happened on Valentine’s Day when the kids raised nearly $300 to send to an orphanage in Kampala, Uganda by holding a Candy-O-Gram sale at the school with proceeds to support the orphanage. Afterwards, students Skyped the recipients,
Teacher Michele Whyte thinks the experience had a positive effect. “When we Skyped, our students agreed that they (the children in the orphanage) are ‘just like us,’ probably the best lesson they will learn all year.”
Whyte, who initiated the program, said it wasn’t all serious.
“All our students wanted to do was find their Valentine in the crowd, and (then they watched) a movie made for us by our Indonesian buddies.”
She says the school will continue to use technology for virtual field trips, and to talk to experts around the world about math, science and history.
She sees nothing but more exciting projects ahead for St. Anselm.