Shelton High students raising funds for district tech

Perry Hill School students Laney Graham and Derek Castanada do work on their Chromebooks last school year.

Perry Hill School students Laney Graham and Derek Castanada do work on their Chromebooks last school year.

Brian Gioiele / Hearst Connecticut Media

SHELTON — Two high school students have created a GoFundMe page in hopes of raising money for the district to purchase additional technology.

Diya Patel and Ria Dalvi joined forces to create the fundraising page, saying the schools need more technology equipment to provide live classes for students doing distant learning during the pandemic.

According to the pair, the pandemic has transformed classrooms, with schools switching to a virtual learning or hybrid model, and teachers forced to adapt their lessons to fit the new style of teaching.

The pair stated that all contributions will be donated to the school district technology for purchases including microphones and cameras for teachers. Within hours of the page’s creation Tuesday, people had contributed $225.

“We decided to start this GoFundMe page to raise money so that Shelton public school system can provide teachers with the technology they need to conduct live-streamed classes,” Dalvi said.

The pair state on the page that Shelton’s teachers are performing well considering that the school district is struggling to provide ample technology that would allow instructors to give students the best education possible.

Interim Superintendent Beth Smith said, thanks in part to COVID-19 grant monies, the district has obtained some 1,400 Chromebooks, which will allow students in grades 7 to 12 to truly be 1-to-1 computer to student. The next step, Smith said, is finding funds to purchase Chromebooks to get pre-K to fourth grade to 1-to-1.

Smith said the district must continue to work with the city to create an updated, long-term technology plan. She said the district has considered cameras for the classrooms to allow teachers to do live stream instruction, but the focus may be turning to purchasing laptops — which have such cameras installed — for staff.

Dalvi said teachers having the ability to live stream their classes is “extremely impactful,” both to students and teachers.

“However, not many teachers have the technology to provide live classes,” Dalvi said. “After talking to some of my friends and finding out that most of them had no teachers that were running live classes, I knew that something had to be done to fix this.”

Smith said to put a laptop in the hands of each staffer would require the district to purchase some 600 laptops for all the staff — and that costs money the school system does not have. Smith said the district also needs to examine the strength of its server to handle the additional use.

“We need a significant needs assessment done,” Smith said

As a student during this pandemic, Dalvi said she now realizes that technology is essential to student learning.

“Since students are only going to school two times a week, most teacher-student interaction happens online,” Dalvi said. “This is why it is imperative that teachers have the technology they need in order to help their students succeed. Our school system needs to make sure distance learning is a success so that the children in our community get the education they deserve.”

Dalvi wrote that, as a junior at Shelton High, she is taking five college level courses.

“However, only two of my teachers have the cameras and microphones available to live stream their classes,” Dalvi said. “I also have many friends who don’t have any teachers with live streaming capabilities.”

Dalvi wrote that since she is only in school for two days a week, the days at home are spent teaching the material to herself.

“This problem is even worse for students who are fully distance learning,” Dalvi wrote. “They don’t get any face time with their teachers. The lack of technological equipment is severely affecting teachers’ ability to do their jobs. Many students are suffering from this lack of student-teacher interaction.”