Dart grant puts more laptops in Haslett Middle School classrooms

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Shannon Line

Dart passes the big check to Haslett representatives.

Haslett schools received a grant of $124,865 on Feb. 12 from the Dart Foundation, allowing the district to transform its technology use in the classroom and grow its robotics program.

Dart Foundation representative Emily Matthews presented the check, which will provide the district with more than 450 Chromebook laptops and help cultivate the Haslett Middle School robotics lab.

Instructors said the grant highlights the importance of technology in teaching.

Dan Kohler, a teacher and the board secretary, said that when the district received a similar grant years ago and it completely changed the way he was teaching.

Kohler said providing every student with a laptop, allowed them to work with teaching simulations, become more engaged with the material and improve their learning experience.

In Haslett, there isn’t a technology millage, so taxpayers aren’t supplying money for resources such as the number of laptops needed to provide one for every student, Kohler said.

This led the district to apply for a grant from the Dart Foundation, which this is not the first time Dart offered funding to Haslett.

Superintendent Steven Cook said Dart previously provided grants to the elementary schools’ program in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics). Four months ago, Dart invited Haslett to apply for a grant upper-level programs, leading them to these improvements.

“I think probably about 25 percent of our classes have Chromebook carts … this grant helped us get a lot closer to solve the issue of not having one cart per classroom,” Cook said.

Not only will Haslett schools have more laptops, they have also allocated money for the middle schools robotics program.

Haslett Middle School principal Susan Gillings said this grant will help expand the robotics program much faster, providing more materials, allowing students  to compete in the near future and to get “excited about engineering and coding.”

Gillings said she hopes this grant will allow the robotics program to provide middle school students with engineering and technical skills to carry on to high school and future careers.

Cook said the district tries to tailor teaching to each student. He said the grant will allow the district to provide an advanced technological teaching experience, providing students with the skills they need in the digital age.

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