Last Wednesday Facebook delivered a donation of technology equipment to Taft, Hoover, and Fair Oaks Elementary Schools in Redwood City. “This generous grant from Facebook will provide students in North Fair Oaks with access to technology and the opportunity to acquire skills and knowledge needed to thrive in the 21st century,” said Maria Diaz-Slocum, president of the Redwood City School District Board.
The event took place at Taft Elementary School where 20 immaculately dressed, adorable second-graders marched into the school library, smiling shyly and taking their seats among principals, school board members, teachers and the media.
Taft Principal Robyn Miller thanked Facebook for its generosity, conveying the importance of the munificent donation. “Putting these devices in the hands of our students is important for many reasons,” she said. “Even if our students don’t have access to computers at home, they have access to technology at school … Creativity and imagination comes alive when these devices are put into the hands of students, and they spark learning. When our students open these devices, the world is at their fingertips, and they access problem solving and critical thinking skills with reading, and math, and social studies, and beyond.”
Miller then introduced Dennis McBride, vice president of the Redwood City School Board. He, too, thanked Facebook, and explained why the gift was so essential. “Our district is poor financially but very wealthy with all its caring adults and all its partners. I’ve been a board member for 12 years and over these last 12 years, we’ve had our funding reduced by about 15 percent so donations like this are really important, and it is much bigger than money. It’s huge because it’s a bolt of hope, heart, and optimism for our parents, and teachers, staff and the district office.”
Steven Ruggiero, Facebook director of operations, also attended and addressed the second-graders. He asked how many of them played video games. All hands rose. “I’m just so jealous of you guys because you are starting out at a time when discovery and tools to make those discoveries are just coming to life,” he said. “And, the things that you guys can create and the things that you guys can help with and the things that you guys can bring to life, whether it’s medicine, whether it’s space travel, whether it’s landing on Mars it starts here, and it starts now. Make sure that you use these gifts to start exploring the world, and you’ll find that as you explore the world, it’s way more interesting than any video game you can ever play — way more interesting, way more exciting, way more marvelous.”
Finally, the students got their hands on the tablets and were guided through a lesson to create a Tellagami avatar. The majority of these second-graders had never used a tablet before. However, they seemed to know instinctively what to do and the excitement was palatable. I asked one astute boy named Angel if he liked his new tablet. “I like it a lot!” he exclaimed. Just then his classmate leaned way over his desk, got nose-to-nose with Angel, and with tablet in hand, hollered, “Do you know how to doodle? I know how to draw on it!” Angel was unperturbed by the disruption, and gallantly continued, “I like it because I can do a lot of fun things. I can do educational stuff.” I asked him what his avatar was going to say. Like an aging actor accepting an Oscar, Angel stoically declared, “Thank you so much, Facebook. I can’t thank you enough!”
It was a very satisfying hour spent in Taft’s tiny, brightly lit library. The room, adorned with colorful student artwork, was energized with excited second-graders, grateful educators and delighted Facebook employees. Smiles were everywhere, and everyone was moved by the feeling of goodwill.
Tim Campos, Facebook CIO, summed up the company’s philanthropic generosity. “Supporting the local community is important to all of us at Facebook. We often say that future business leaders, government officials and those that will impact the world the most could be right here in our own backyard. That being said, engaging with the community and our neighbors is incredibly fulfilling for us, and we hope to continue to contribute even more in the future.”
Contact Margaret Lavin at [email protected].