, Muskogee, OK

May 19, 2013

Fort Gibson school gets $65,000 technology grant

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Fort Gibson Intermediate Elementary students soon could share their studies with kids across the state and authors around the world.

The school received a $65,000 grant from the Oklahoma Educational Technology Trust to improve its technology and tech training. According to a media release, $40,000 of the grant will help buy new technology, and $25,000 will fund professional development for teachers.

“We are just excited about this,” said Intermediate Elementary Principal Sherry Rybolt. “Our team had been wanting a SMART Board that a lot of schools already have.”

A SMART Board is an interactive digital chalkboard that enables users to move items around. It is similar to a tablet computer. Rybolt said the school also plans to spend the money on a new webcam.

“With the webcam, we can talk to authors over the computer,” Rybolt said.

“We want to create and do videos about our fort and share them with other schools,” she said, referring to the historic Fort Gibson Stockade.

Third-grade teacher Shawn Dickmann, who helped prepare the grant application, said she looks forward to connecting with other schools.

“We would like to reach other classrooms across the state to facilitate our classroom learning,” Dickmann said. “It’s been my hope to find classrooms across the state and make a digital scrapbook of our state’s regions. I’m a visual learner myself.”

Rybolt said Intermediate Elementary School teachers attended a workshop on the technology grant earlier this week.

“We hope to start installing the technology in July and have it installed by the time school starts,” she said.

The grant is one way the school is updating its technology. Fort Gibson schools seek to enable each student to have a laptop or tablet computer. Part of its recently-passed $5.48 million bond issue aims toward that goal, she said.

“Now, we’re just light years ahead,” Dickmann said.

Rybolt said other schools in the district and the area have had SMART Boards for years.

Tony Goetz Elementary School and Wagoner’s Ellington Elementary School received OETT grants in 2004 and used them for SMART Boards.

OETT Executive Director Susie Graves said 188 Oklahoma schools have received the grants since their inception in 2003. She said technology has changed since those early years.

“The cool thing about the SMART Boards is that the new ones have a built-in projector,” she said.

Fort Gibson Intermediate Elementary was one of 18 schools to receive the 2013 grants, she said.

Oklahoma Educational Technology Trust is administered by the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma. Professional Development is coordinated through the University of Oklahoma’s K20 center.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or