3M donates iPads to Woodland Heights first-graders

Brownwood Independent School District
Woodland Heights Elementary teacher Lea Lee stands next to the new iPads donated by 3M.

Woodland Heights Elementary School teacher Leah Lee said when she thinks of each student, she thinks of the words “perseverance, overcoming and resilience.”

Lee teaches remote learning for the first grade and has taken on the role of teaching elementary students in webinar etiquette, how to navigate technology and how to engage in online learning.

While distance learning has proven a challenging task in itself, her students have struggled with simply owning devices needed for online education.

A recent donation from 3M of 10 iPads is helping make remote learning easier for Lee's first-grade students. The iPads arrived at the school on Oct. 13, bringing with them “opportunity, encouragement and the reminder that there is still a lot of good in the world,” Lee said.

“As I am learning how to explain using programs on various devices, my students and parents are doing all they can to continue the journey of learning." 

Lee explained the backstory of the donations.

In early September, Lee created a project through Donors Choose called iPad Intellect, Lee said. The project requested funding for 10 iPads to be used in remote learning, making virtual learning easier for her students.

Donors Choose is an online funding site which aids teachers.

“My smaller students are not able to maneuver a mouse as easily as they can a touch screen,” Lee said. “Typing is also a skill not quite mastered by most first-graders. By using an iPad, the student can write/paint answers onto many lessons.” 

Brownwood students have become accustomed to using iPads in classrooms, so Lee found a way to include tools her students could use. 

In early October, Lee received an email saying the 3M Company had fully funded the project, with 10 iPads their way to her classroom. 

With the nearly $4,000 donation, 3M met a need in a generous contribution, Lee said.

“With the gift of iPads, students will have easy, manageable access to me, and learning,” Lee said.

Every year one goal for her students is for them to gain independence, Lee said, and she wants to equip them with the ability to work and be successful on their own.

“Even though the learning setting is different, I still want my class to learn how to do things without assistance,” Lee said. “I felt like iPads would be the best option for this.”

Using Zoom, Lee said, her students have learned to join meetings on their own and use the  microphone, camera, response emoticons and screen annotations.” 

3M’s donation has allowed these students to move forward, Lee said, adding that the gift has relieved some of the burden of the impact of COVID.

The generous support of community partners helps students continue to thrive, Lee said.

"Our slogan for class is, ‘Today is a great day to learn something new!’” Lee said. “I can’t imagine a more suitable motto.”