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Conway Junior High teacher creates program so all students have electronic devices of their own

With more schools making tough decisions about the upcoming school year, one factor in that decision making is the availability of technology.

CONWAY, Ark. — With more schools making tough decisions about the upcoming school year amidst COVID-19, one factor in that decision making is the availability of technology. That's why one Conway teacher is working to make sure all students have an electronic device they can call their own.

Shari McGehee is nearing the end of her 34th year of teaching.

“I’ve never seen anything like what we are doing right now with the online learning,” she said.

McGehee teaches special education at Conway Junior High. She noticed her students and others were in need of tech devices to do their online schoolwork.

“Even during the normal school year we have kids that don't have access at home and that puts them at a disadvantage,” she said. “I had homes where there were two or three students across two or three grade levels that needed an extra device at the house.”

While schools in Faulkner County have been working to make sure all students have devices for virtual learning, there are still challenges ahead.

“The plan is to have one device per student should we have to be virtual in the fall, however, we know that probably won’t happen by August because we have to purchase and distribute all of them,” she said.

That’s why she has been working on Tech4Students, a donation program that gets devices like Chromebooks, iPads, and laptops in students’ hands for life. In her opinion, giving students a device that's theirs and not borrowed empowers their education.

“This is something that I want to gift to them so they can have it now and until they don’t need it,” she said.

McGehee is hopeful other teachers across the state will start similar Tech4Students programs.

“Teachers make an impact and I’m just one small person in this district,” she said. “There are so many teachers out there willing to do whatever it takes for our kids.”

Tech4Students is accepting tech donations that are gently used, able to be reset to factory settings, and that have a charger.

People can also donate money to sponsor these items. Any donation is appreciated but a new Chromebook runs at about $200.

You can contact Shari about donating at shmcgehee7@yahoo.com or 501-612-0181.

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