U.S. Cellular helps schools

Published 5:39 am Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Staff Writer

Teachers around the country have received $1 million in classroom supplies thanks to Calling All Teachers, a new U.S. Cellular project.
Three teachers in Beaufort County classrooms learned last week their proposed classroom projects had been funded by the project. They are among the more than 130 teachers across North Carolina who received more than $68,000 in funding.
“Right now, we have funding for three different projects,” said Melissa McIntyre, a U.S. Cellular representative. “We have one teacher at S.W. Snowden Elementary School who received an iPod Touch to help her students.”
Julie Billups-Rattler, the teacher, is a U.S. Cellular customer. She wanted to do something good for her school, so she logged onto DonorsChoose.org to submit her request.
“We’ve only had the iPod for one week and already the kids are learning so much, just by the use of technology,” she said. “I’ll let them try it out during their ‘free time’ when they’re finished with their work.
“And there are all kinds of really cool educational things on the iPod for kids to use, such as a NASA app (application) where the kids can go and look at images from space, any map you can think of, language arts and social studies.”
Billups-Rattler said there are so many more free educational apps that she downloads to the iPod for her students to use.
“It’s good for them to at least get the experience working on it and getting a feel for it to learn about technology,” she said. “Because when they leave here and go to college, or go to other places, this might be the only opportunity they have to experience and learn on new technology.”
Some of Billups-Rattler’s students liked different things about the iPod Touch and its technology. One student, Ethan Evans, said he liked being able to go onto the NASA app and see images from space.
Jamie Spivey, Nakiya Johnson, Zanasia Cratch, Akilah Felton and Jakaya Moore said they loved the reading, vocabulary and educational games such as “Kindle.” Kaitlyn Belangia and Anasia Hill said they like that the iPod has a dictionary, too.
“There are lots of fun games on it, but we learn a lot from the technology and reading,” Andres Rodriguez, another student, said.
Fellow student Christiona Golson, added, “There are so many fun and interesting things on there (iPod).”
Kimberly Sebastian, U.S. Cellular’s director of sales for eastern North Carolina, said the teacher wanted to be able to help students learn how to utilize technology, podcast, utilize educational applications and use E-books (electronic books).
“It has really been a great project to incorporate technology and schools,” Sebastian said.
U.S. Cellular partnered with DonorsChoose.org to fund $1 million in creative and effective classroom projects submitted by public school teachers.
There are two additional projects in the county as well. Chocowinity Elementary School students needed something as simple as an electric pencil sharpener because it was not in the school’s budget, and Northeast Elementary School’s third-grade students received audio books and CD players.
“And again, technology mixes well with learning and enhances their love of reading as well,” Sebastian said. “Any public school teacher can go onto DonorsChoose.org and request assistance for their school,” she said. “U.S. Cellular funds $1 million of the projects because we want to give back to the communities we serve. We feel it’s critical to help the communities, our communities, we live in as well.”
McIntyre said hundreds of teachers across the country have posted their classroom projects on DonorsChoose.org, and they were thrilled to receive any assistance from the $1 million worth of supplies, as they are still currently on their way to them.
“We’re in the second year of our Calling All Teachers campaign,” McIntyre said. “We’ve funded 1,775 projects that range from stocking science labs for high schools to new reading rugs and bean-bag chairs for kindergarten classes.”
Any teacher from any school in the country may log onto DonorsChoose.org and either choose a project or submit a project they wish to see become a reality at his or her school.
“Thank you to everyone who participated and helped spread the word to family and friends,” McIntyre said.
To see students’ reactions to their new supplies and learn how the projects have aided their learning, visit the Community Power tab on U.S. Cellular’s Facebook page.
To learn more about the programs and how teachers may submit an idea, log onto DonorsChoose.org.