School system given iPads by donor

AMELIA, VA (WWBT) - The Amelia County School System is two iPads richer thanks to the generosity of an NBC12 viewer.

Last month, we told you about a pilot program through VCU.  It enhances learning for special education students.  The program was a success, but school leaders had to give the iPads back at the conclusion of the program.  One of our viewers was moved to make the program permanent.

Anu Upadhyaya with the Amelia County School System says, "These are the brand new iPad2; what we had in the pilot program was iPad1, so this is even better.  After your show aired, there was an anonymous donor who contacted us and was interested in supporting the program and helping us continue with that."

Amelia County Schools was one of the first systems in our area to partner with VCU's TTAC program, which loaned out two iPads to help in special education classrooms.

We saw the success of the program firsthand back in April with Ethan, 5.  Ethan is autistic and can't always express his feelings in words, but with an iPad, he can show you.

Our story aired on the day the program was wrapping up, a fact that saddened one of our viewers.  Though the Henrico man wishes to remain anonymous, the man tells me he was so inspired by the story, he purchased two iPads so the schools could continue effectively working with students like Ethan.

Upadhyaya says, "A wonderful story of a good Samaritan that saw a need and answers a call, and wishes to remain anonymous, and that speaks volume.  I would say thank that this is going to change students lives."

One of the things the school system is hoping to use these iPads for is to start a mentoring program using an application called facetime.  Because iPad2's have cameras, elementary and high school students will be able to talk to each other.

Upadhyaya says, "That's an issue for students who have communication disorders is being able to communicate with others, and this will be an avenue of elementary age kids communicating with high school age kids."

The school system will start using the iPads immediately, but over the summer, teachers will get more training and launch new programming in the fall.

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