Point Pleasant Education Foundation funds Media Center upgrades
An evolution is occurring in the country’s classrooms as technology assumes an increasingly key role in the education process. With schools moving toward the technology-integrated instructional model, gone are the days of the single classroom computer and the once weekly visits to the computer lab, replaced with daily, cross-curricular use of mobile devices like Chromebooks and iPads, which are often available to students on a one-to-one basis.
“Research has proven that when used effectively, technology enhances standards-based learning across the curriculum,” said Point Pleasant Borough Schools’ Director of Curriculum & Instruction Susan Ladd Ed.D. “Therefore, every effort has been made to infuse technology into virtually every curriculum area.”
Yet as vital as technology is to the learning process, its associated costs have proven somewhat restrictive, forcing districts to prioritize the areas where upgrades are made. Unfortunately, an area that is chronically overlooked when budget season rolls around is school libraries/media centers – an area that serves a critical role in the 21st century learning dynamic.
As digital resources comprise a greater proportion of the educational experience, school libraries are trending away from silent repositories of printed tomes, meant for individual study, and transforming into dynamic, tech-infused media centers that promote exploration and collaboration.
“The 21st century media center should offer students a blend of traditional resources with new technologies,” said Point Pleasant Borough High School Media Specialist Kim Manser. “It should cultivate collaboration, support active exploration and encourage discovery while inspiring authentic, hands-on learning in a comfortable yet professional environment.”
In short, the 21st century media center should be just like Point Pleasant Borough High School’s newly renovated media center.
Mrs. Manser unveiled the updated media center at a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sept. 21, marking the final step in a transformation that was more than a year in the making.
It all started in early 2015 with an initial grant application submitted to the Point Pleasant Foundation for Excellence in Education, in which Mrs. Manser requested $7,300 to replace the media center’s computers. Her proposal was approved, and at the end of the 2014-15 school year, a number of Chromeboxes were installed, replacing the media center’s 22 outdated Windows-based units.
“The updated computers have helped facilitate greater digital collaboration on documents and projects among students and teachers, and have also provided faster and more efficient platforms for accomplishing online research and for taking online standardized assessments,” she said.
The success of the first grant application acted as a catalyst for Mrs. Manser, inspiring her to pursue additional funding from the Foundation to make her vision of establishing a thriving and dynamic 21st century media center, a reality.
Mrs. Manser worked directly with students when crafting a subsequent proposal, incorporating their suggestions and requests in her application for an additional $30,000 to fund the purchase and installation of comfortable seating for leisure reading, a multi media collaboration center, individual desks for quiet study, and informational areas for research needs as well as mobile charging stations.
“My vision for the renovation was to establish a professional and collegiate level experience for students where expectations are high and a feeling of professionalism is evident,” she said. “My hope was that the revitalized space would become a true information resource center that provides comprehensive cross-curriculum support and that successfully extends learning beyond the classroom.”
Mrs. Manser’s vision precisely aligned with the Foundation’s goal of supporting innovative projects in Point Pleasant Schools.
"The Point Pleasant Foundation for Excellence in Education enthusiastically supports projects that impact the student body as a whole,” said Foundation president Matt Gray. “We were thrilled to be a part of such a wonderful plan for the students of Point Pleasant Borough High School."
If the students’ responses are any indication, the renovated media center is an overwhelming success.
“It feels really modern,” senior Hayden Frey said about the updates. “The new layout is great and I think it will allow greater collaboration.”
Fellow senior Amye Zalesky lauded the media center’s inviting atmosphere, she said, “It makes me want to come in and stay. I’ve been here every day and I get most of my work done here now. Any resource you might need is available from the computers and books to Mrs. Manser. I also like the way the tables are set up now because they encourage collaboration.”
In addition to collaboration the new layout supports individual study and group learning in several defined areas within the media center, which are identified with signs indicating Share, Reflect, Connect, Search, Ask. These specific areas help maximize the media center’s usage by allowing for various activities to take place simultaneously.
To accommodate the increased usage inspired by the upgrades, the media center has expanded its hours of operation, opening 40 minutes before the start of the school day and remaining open until 3:20 p.m. – almost an hour after the end of the school day!
Mrs. Manser said students are already taking advantage of the expanded hours and that the media center usage has substantially increased, she said, “The media center has become a true learning hub, a centralized space that encourages productivity and collaboration and that meet’s every student’s needs.
“Based on our students’ positive reactions and their increased usage, I am confident that the media center upgrades will have a profound and lasting impact on learning at Point Pleasant High School and I can just as confidently state that this would not have been possible without the Point Pleasant Foundation for Excellence in Education,” Mrs. Manser said. “Thanks to their generosity, our students will have access to a dynamic and engaging multipurpose Media Center that meets their evolving educational, technological and social needs.”
According to Mrs. Manser, additional funding was provided by the 2015 National Honor Society, who contributed a $500 grant to the project and the Point Pleasant Borough School District, who donated the paint and carpeting.
“A successful partnership between school and community enhances our ability to provide a quality education for our students,” said Superintendent of Schools Vincent S. Smith. “We’re so grateful for the Foundation’s continued commitment to enriching the learning experience and ensuring every educational advantage for the children of Point Pleasant Borough and for supporting sustained innovation in our schools.”
The Point Pleasant Foundation for Excellence in Education was founded in 1997 with the goal of strengthening community participation in programs that enrich the values and traditions of Point Pleasant Schools. The organization’s primary objective is to provide funding to support various programs, improvements and initiatives that foster excellence in Point Pleasant schools. Targeted areas include, enhancing opportunities for students to achieve total life enrichment and enjoyment through a balance of academics, athletics, and the arts; providing opportunities beyond the traditional learning experience, not funded through currently established programs; and encouraging projects and programs promoting the use of most recent technologies in teaching and learning.
Over the past 18 years, the Foundation, in cooperation with the Superintendent’s Office, has sought to identify high priority opportunities within the schools that are in need of financial support. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $360,000 to district schools in the form of Student Leadership Grants and Scholarships, Teacher Grants, new technologies and equipment. The Foundation has also provided financial support to Point Pleasant Borough High School’s Just Around the Corner school store, a vocational training center for students with multiple disabilities, as well as for Point Pleasant Borough Schools’ Summer Reading Program, providing funds to purchase grand prizes since the program’s 2008 inception. The Foundation also oversees Point Pleasant Borough Schools’ Hall of Fame, honoring exceptional teachers, students, alumni and community members who have made a positive impact on or who have bequeathed a positive legacy to the Point Pleasant Borough School District.