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Buckeye Foundation helping students go high tech

Oak Meadow fifth-graders complete assignments on their Chromebooks in Ms. Burkland's class. The Buckeye Education Foundation and PTA partnered to bring more technology to the classrooms. Village Life photo by Shelly Thorene
Oak Meadow fifth-graders complete assignments on their Chromebooks in Ms. Burkland's class. The Buckeye Education Foundation and PTA partnered to bring more technology to the classrooms. Village Life photo by Shelly Thorene

Homework alerts via e-mail, group projects available in the cloud, children engaged in their learning experiences … it’s all happening in Buckeye Union School District’s classrooms.

But Jon Yoffie wants more. The president of the Buckeye Education Foundation has technology on his mind and he wants to see it in every classroom. To that end, the foundation funded a $44,000 wireless networking system for each campus this past year and will send teachers to tech training this summer.

“Our goal is for kids to have a better educational experience,” Yoffie said.

Since its inception four years ago, the Buckeye Education Foundation has raised about $500,000 for the district’s two middle schools and five elementary schools educating about 4,700 students in El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park. Jon and his wife Shannon, who have two school-aged sons, 12 and 14, started the foundation to save programs the district was forced to cut.

“We have really good schools,” Jon explained. “What was missing when we started the foundation was this extra stuff.”

That “extra stuff” included a designated PE teacher and shared library aide, which the foundation has funded the last four years. Next year the library aide program will grow so aides don’t have to travel from school to school, allowing them more time to get to know students.

The respected non-profit organization has many community partners, including school PTAs and corporate sponsors. The Oak Meadow Elementary School PTA joined the foundation in its technology quest, purchasing Chromebooks and iPads that travel from classroom to classroom. The foundation has committed $155,000 district-wide next school year for technology training and a full-time Ed Tech coach.

“It’s a roll out,” Jon said of the technology programs. “It’s going to start small and go from there.”

Oak Meadow Principal Barbara Narez, whose students already use the tablets, said she definitely sees the benefits. “The students have been so motivated to have (the tablets) in the classroom.”

Fifth-grader Regan said, “You’re able to do a lot of things on them … quickly look something up.”

“It searches way faster,” added classmate Kase.

Students working on group projects send their research and ideas to the cloud. “If I type something on here it would appear on here,” explained fifth-grader Trent, pointing from his tablet to another.

In addition to having a more focused class, teacher Melinda Spooner said the technology has also helped students work ethic at home.

“I pretty much have 100 percent doing their homework,” she proudly said. “These students are so engaged.”

To keep expanding programs like this the Buckeye Education Foundation hosts fundraisers — Toast to Education in the spring, the Making the Grade Run for Education in the fall — and benefits from community generosity. The El Dorado Hills Sports Club hosted the Splash into Summer fundraiser last month and the El Dorado Hills Chamber of Commerce named the foundation its beneficiary of funds raised at its annual Chamber Charity Golf Tournament held last weekend.

Corporate sponsors include El Dorado Disposal, Dignity Health, Parker Development, Kidz Gear and local orthodontist Dr. Datwyler.

About 4 percent of parents also donate to the foundation, according to Jon. It’s number he’d like to see dramatically rise. “If we could get that 4 percent to 10 percent, that’s huge,” he said.

For more information about the Buckeye Education Foundation or to donate visit buckeyefoundation.org.

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Posted by on Jun 17 2013.
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