GRAYSVILLE — Representatives from CONSOL Energy Inc. and The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation visited Graysville Elementary School Wednesday to present the school with a very special gift that will hopefully help “Kindle” the students’ interest in education.
The school was presented with 20 Kindle Fire HDX tablets that will be used by the school’s 245 students for educational purposes.
Dave Soltesz, president of the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, and Tommy Johnson, vice president of government affairs and public relations at CONSOL Energy, formally presented the tablets during a conference held in the school library.
Also in attendance for the presentation were Archie Trader and Blair Zimmerman, Greene County commissioners; Thelma Szarell, West Greene School District superintendent; Donald Painter, Graysville Elementary School principal; Myleen McCollum, school librarian; Jesse Swift, longwall coordinator for CONSOL Energy; Jason Nicholson, safety specialist for CONSOL Energy; and several fourth graders who had the opportunity to use the new Kindle Fire tablets.
Soltesz explained that the Foundation and CONSOL Energy are teaming up on a first-of-its kind initiative – “Tablets in Education” – to provide free Kindle Fire HDX 7 tablets to local schools.
“We’ve been working on the program for about two years, and in mid-March the Penguins Foundation introduced ‘Tablets in Education’ to schools in Allegheny County,” Soltesz said. “Our great partner, CONSOL Energy, realized there was an opportunity to positively impact students in outlying counties, so in addition to their support of the program through an EITC contribution, CONSOL Energy offered to fund a pilot program for three schools in neighboring counties.
“As a Foundation, this is our most important educational program to date,” he said. “By providing these free tablets, we believe we can help teachers enhance students’ interest in reading and math and help to develop critical thinking, writing and communication skills. We are really proud of the program, and we are thankful for CONSOL’s support.”
Soltesz said 60 schools were initially eligible for the “Tablets in Education” initiative in the beginning, and thus far more than $75,000 has been invested in the program. He added that the goal is to see the program expand so that more schools will be able to benefit from the program in the future.
Johnson said CONSOL Energy is excited to partner with the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation in “Tablets in Education.”
“Education is the cornerstone of individual and community success; technology can play a critical role in stimulating student interest and improving academic achievement,” Johnson said. “Just as technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences. This initiative brings state-of-the art technology into the classroom to help boost the curriculum. CONSOL Energy recognizes the significance in supporting education, as today’s youth are tomorrow’s future.”
Johnson also thanked the efforts of the West Greene School District and the county commissioners in bringing the tablets to the school. He also emphasized that the collaborative efforts will greatly benefit the students.
“There is really no better investment than our youth,” he said.
In addition to Graysville Elementary School, Springhill Elementary School has also received 20 tablets, and Claysville Elementary School in Washington County will also benefit from the program.
The schools selected will receive 20 Kindles, mass charging stations, Kindle FreeTime Kid-Proof Cases and educational apps to support classroom curriculum. CONSOL Energy’s donation is an extension of the “Tablets in Education” program launched in Allegheny County by the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation and the Allegheny County Intermediate Unit3 (AIU3).
Szarell said the school district is “very appreciative” of the ongoing partnership with CONSOL Energy. “CONSOL is helping with our vision to equip our children with the technology tools to enhance the learning process, in order to meet the needs for the 21st-century learner,” Szarell said. “Placing Kindles into the hands of our young students is one method that motivates children to want to learn. Our students are excited and we are pleased to partner with industry to provide instruction that is supported by technology.
“This is truly an exciting day for this school, and we are very grateful.”
Commissioners Trader and Zimmerman also commended the program and thanked those involved in bringing the tablets to Graysville Elementary School.
The Allegheny County Intermediate Unit3, Common Sense Media and The Kindle Education Team will assist each school in selecting educational apps and age-appropriate books while developing content and lesson plans.