National Grid ‘tech support’ enhancing student learning

By Dave Bertola

Michael, a seventh-grader at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf, explains how he used a Bak USA tablet – donated by National Grid to design a gymnasium for a class project. Since 2016, National Grid has donated 17 tablets to the school.

If a movie were to be made about how students at St. Mary’s School for the Deaf use technology in the classroom, it might be called, “Bak to the Future.”

That’s because the students are using tablets manufactured by Bak USA in Buffalo. Since 2016, National Grid has donated $10,000 to the Buffalo-based school, which has an enrollment of approximately 100 K-12 students from eight counties and traces its roots to the 1850s. In total, the company’s donation has funded 17 tablets.

“Our students went to the factory to see how the tablets are manufactured,” said St. Mary’s Superintendent Tim Kelly. “The technology helps us to teach, and our students are no different from their hearing peers, who also take Regents exams. The tablets have been great, and we’ve taken them on field trips.”

One recent trip focused on architecture. It was part of a project where students were asked to collaborate on a “deaf space” they would like to see at the school. For another project, students used a drawing program on the tablets to design a gymnasium. The tablets also are used for multimedia projects, filming videos that are part of morning announcements and connect to digital microscopes in science labs. On Feb. 2, tech teacher Ken Harmon had a tablet in hand to film the opening of the school’s new library.

Meanwhile, faculty and staff are grateful for National Grid’s support.

“Our relationship with National Grid has been extremely positive,” said Margaret Phillips, executive

St. Mary’s School for the Deaf tech teacher Ken Harmon uses a Bak USA tablet to shoot video of the grand opening of the school’s new library. The tablet is one of 17 donated to the school by National Grid since 2016.

director, Foundation for Deaf Education, which funds many of the school’s programs. “We are hopeful for a long-standing relationship with National Grid that takes us well into the future.”

National Grid regional manager Ken Kujawa said that whenever there are STEM-related initiatives or opportunities to put technology into students’ hands, we’re glad to help.

“Subjects such as science, technology, engineering and math are not only fun to learn, they’re important to us as a company,” he said. “They are the foundations of what our next generation of engineers and company leaders are studying today, and will be using tomorrow, as we look to hire engineers, managers and others in the years to come.”

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