By Linda Vanderwerf
West Central Tribune
WILLMAR -- Willmar Senior High math teacher Kathy Meyer looked puzzled as she watched a group of strangers invade her algebra/statistics class -- until she saw that giant check.
Meyer's look of disbelief turned to glee as she realized her visitors had come to tell her she had won a technology grant for an interactive whiteboard in her classroom from the Qwest Foundation and the Minnesota Business Partnership.
John Stanoch, Minnesota president of Qwest, and Charlie Weaver, executive director of the partnership, presented Meyer with a real check, too, for $6,525. The grant will purchase an interactive whiteboard, four laptop computers and software to bring Internet resources into her classroom.
Meyer is a Morris resident who teaches in the Willmar School District.
"Oh, awesome," she said, and she hugged Principal Rob Anderson.
Meyer was using a portable whiteboard, provided as a manufacturer's demo model, when Anderson took Stanoch and Weaver into her classroom.
"I've been trying to figure out what I would do if I didn't get one of these," Meyer said. "We're putting stuff on the Internet and they're going to it. Kids are printing out their notes."
When Anderson gave her information about the technology grants, "I said, 'I've never written one before, but I'll try,'" Meyer said.
After taking a moment to adjust to the news, Meyer hurried to the classroom next door to tell colleague Mindi Fagerlie about the grant. Fagerlie was nearly as excited as Meyer, because it means her classroom will be getting a board, too. When Meyer wrote the grant, Anderson had pledged to add enough to the grant to equip Fagerlie's classroom.
"You have no idea how it changes what we do in the classroom," Meyer told Stanoch and Weaver. "I thank you on behalf of the kids, too."
In her application, Meyer included comments from some of her students about the new technology.
"The technology that we have been using in our classroom has been very well appreciated. It is faster and easier. It helps the teacher prepare for the class before we are there. Later on, if I need help, it is useful that everything we did that day is saved and is available for me to look at online. It would really be nice to be able to continue with this technology in our classroom," wrote a girl named Jessica T.
Fifteen grants totaling $96,000 were awarded from more than 60 applications.