Donor Works Through WHRO To Get Technology Into Local Schools

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From left to right are Elmer Seward, WHRO vice president of education services; Bert Schmidt, WHRO president and chief executive officer; Eric Fox, WHRO board member; and Chris Holland, Accomack schools superintendent. They are standing near the entrance of Nandua High School in front of new technology equipment purchased with funding from an anonymous donor. Photo by Stefanie Jackson.

By Stefanie Jackson – The Accomack and Northampton school divisions each will receive $25,000 for the purchase of technology to be used by students and teachers in the classroom, through the cooperation of an anonymous donor and local public broadcasting station WHRO.

Accomack schools Superintendent Chris Holland and WHRO representatives met at Nandua High School June 30 for the delivery of equipment purchased with the first half of the donated funds.

The Accomack school division purchased five SMART boards – electronic whiteboards with digital touchscreen displays – along with five projectors and five speakers that are compatible with the SMART boards.

The Northampton school division’s first purchase consisted of two ViewSonic boards – similar to SMART boards but with additional features designed for educational settings – and two trolleys to transport the ViewSonic boards between classrooms.

The new technology is an upgrade from the SMART boards currently in use, and it will be a “big factor in getting our test scores up and the learning process” for elementary, middle, and high school students, Holland said.

Eric Fox, a member of the WHRO board of directors, said, “This gift is a state-of-the-art audio-visual item, which will allow the students to interact with the screen in a much superior way to the systems they have now.

“It’s particularly important, whether you have a student body that is either very well-off or very poor-off (economically), that everybody gets equal treatment and equal opportunity, equal exposure, to high tech,” he said.

Fox explained that the anonymous donor is a client of WHRO with a charitable trust and “big believers in education” who wanted to help the small-budget public schools of the Eastern Shore.

As a nonprofit, WHRO was able to assist the anonymous donor by accepting the funds and ordering and delivering the technology equipment chosen by each school division.

It was an opportunity for WHRO to give back to two of the school divisions that own the PBS station.

“WHRO is owned by 21 school divisions,” said WHRO President and Chief Executive Officer Bert Schmidt.

“We’re the only station in the country owned by a collaboration of school divisions, including Northampton and Accomack. So whatever we can do to help out our school divisions, that’s … our purpose.”