It’s not every day that we get to tell our educators that we have received funding to purchase all items on their wish lists, but that’s exactly what a recent grant is allowing us to do with technology in our schools. JUF awarded Keshet over $35,000 to invest in technology to improve education delivery, increase independence and foster inclusion among all students. This is the largest single investment in education technology that Keshet has ever received.
The funding will allow us to purchase interactive white boards, augmented communication devices, adaptive switches, additional computers, new curricula and more. This equipment and software will have an immediate impact on instruction and provide teachers with more ways to individualize, differentiate and scaffold instruction. Keshet’s students thrive in an educational environment that is highly individualized and structured; focuses on the physical, academic and emotional well-being of students; and offers daily therapies on site. Our new technology will address all aspects of a Keshet education.
We also recognize that this technology can help foster a community of belonging where students of all abilities learn and play together. The new technology will open the door to new opportunities for joint learning between students and faculty at Keshet’s schools and our host schools. After two years of isolation due to the pandemic, students are finally able and longing to come back together to learn collaboratively and socialize. Keshet’s education programs are intentionally designed to create inclusion opportunities by being located within other schools. Typically, the biggest barrier to peer-to-peer interaction is communication. A greater percentage of Keshet’s students are nonverbal than in the past. When these students are able to successfully use technology to communicate with others, it becomes easier to participate in activities, classes and informal social opportunities.
This has been true for one of students at Keshet’s Day School who uses very sophisticated communication devices. He has befriended a group of boys who attend Solomon Schechter Day School. Prior to the pandemic, the Schechter students were so intrigued by the communication devices that they also learned how to use them. A friendship was formed through technology that has lasted over the past two years as our student has had to learn remotely. They boys have sent messages and videos to each other waiting for the day when everyone can return to school in-person.
It’s easy to see this grant as hardware and software. Yet, we know it is so much more. With this grant, we will be able to see how technology will create more opportunities to enhance learning, encourage independence, foster meaningful friendships and create a community where people feel they belong.