Special to the Daily News
Through a partnership between the Middlesboro Independent School District and Dataseam Corporation, with assistance from State Representative Rick Nelson, the district has now put 476 computers free-of-charge into the hands of students and teachers. These same computers are being used during evenings and weekends as part of a network conducting cancer research through the University of Louisville’s Brown Cancer Center.
“They have given a tremendous effort here in Middlesboro. The teachers and the district technology department have all been very aggressive in pursuing opportunities that are available within the program,” said Dataseam Chief Executive Officer Brian Gupton. “The accolades go to them because they are earning this technology. We aren’t giving it to them.”
“With the opportunities the program brings to offset shortfalls in budgeting and funding we’ve experienced from the state over the past couple of years, it has provided a tremendous lift to the technology budgets in participating school districts,” said Gupton. “The other thing that is really important is that it is providing this infrastructure for us to engage in next generation cancer research and drug discovery on behalf of The University of Louisville’s Brown Cancer Center.”
Nelson has been an integral part of the partnership that made this possible. He stated, “In 2006 we were presented a proposal from Dataseam that involved taking some coal severance money, and all the coal producing counties were on board with it. One good side of this is at night when students are not using the computers they are linked into a network making a super computer which helps with cancer research at the University of Louisville.”
“Another good side is that since technology is the way of the future this enables districts to get these computers at no cost. They have to pay for the training, which is a small cost, but they get these state of the art computers free. Our goal was that each school have a lab, plus more. Middlesboro is doing an outstanding job, along with our other local districts in doing this,” said Nelson.
Middlesboro Schools Superintendent Dr. Rita Cook, along with the members of the school board, are very supportive of the partnership.
“When I came here three years ago one of the concerns the board members expressed was that we didn’t have enough technology in our buildings. It has been a goal for the board and a goal for me to get more technology, not only into the hands of our teachers, but into the hands of our students as well,” said Cook.
“In the past three years we have increased the number of computers to 476. We would not have been able to do this without our partnership with Dataseam. We have been able to participate in programs and activities that meant these computers were given to our district to use at no cost. That is a tremendous thing. In this day and time in order to work and stay within our budget we have to look for ways to access these kinds of opportunities to bring technology to our students, and also save costs for our district,” said Cook.
Board member Edie Kelley agreed that the partnership with Dataseam is great for the district because it saves money during this limited budgeting.
“Our children can communicate with other students all around the world through Internet and technology. They can learn more through research,” said Kelley. “There’s unlimited opportunities for our children. Everything today is computerized. In industry so much of our equipment is computerized. Having even a base knowledge of operating a computer helps tremendously in general industry.”
West End Principal James Whitaker spoke about the improvements at the primary school.
“At this time all of our classroom teachers have a brand new Mac computer in their room, plus we have 31 additional computers in our library and 25 more in a separate lab,” he said. “We have a large number of computers and it’s going to make our ability to work better. Our kids as well as our teachers are being exposed to more technology. Dataseam has been a part of that. We appreciate the work of State Representative Nelson. It has been a plus for this school.”
Middlesboro School District Chief Information Officer Larry Grandey explained how the partnership works. “This has been a year and a half of work progression for myself, my team, Dataseam and Nelson to put all this together and bring the funding in here to make this happen for each of our schools,” said Grandey. “Each and every one of our schools now has two complete Mac labs. This includes the primary school, the intermediate school, the middle school, and the high school.”
“This took everyone from Representative Nelson to other representatives across the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and having everyone in agreement that coal severance money could be used for this along with Dr. Cook and the school board allowed us to spend the money for this training,” said Grandey.