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North Rockland Daily Voice serves Garnerville, Grassy Point, Stony Point, Thiells, Tomkins Cove, Village of Haverstraw & West Haverstraw in Haverstraw Town

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Garnerville Woman Aims To Close Digital Divide With Laptops

Students at PS 9 Ryer Avenue Elementary School look on as one uses a Chromebook. Their teacher Rosemary Garabito of Garnerville started a fundraiser to buy laptops for students there.
Students at PS 9 Ryer Avenue Elementary School look on as one uses a Chromebook. Their teacher Rosemary Garabito of Garnerville started a fundraiser to buy laptops for students there. Photo Credit: DonorsChoose.org

GARNERVILLE, N.Y. -- A Bronx school teacher from Garnerville is trying to level the education field through technology and is using crowdfunding to get a laptop on every desk for her classroom.

Rosemary Garabito wants to make sure her fourth graders have the same advantages as peers in wealthier districts and access to technology is a start, she said.

"When I started (teaching in the Bronx) I realized students there did not have the access to technology like they do in North Rockland," Garabito said, noting she was a Rockland County substitute teacher before heading to PS 9.

Almost all of Garabito's students don't have a computer at home or access to WiFi, she said.

"This makes it difficult to assign projects or homework that requires researching or Internet access. If I had the laptops available in my classroom, students would learn to research and use the Internet in a positive way," she said.

If Garabito has her way, all kids in her classroom will have a laptop, something she regards as a key piece of learning that would help close the digital gap in the Bronx.

She's hoping through her online fundraiser on DonorsChoose.org , she'll raise enough money to buy Acer Chromebook laptops for all of her students at PS 9 Ryer Avenue Elementary School.

"There is nothing more that I want than for my students to be prepared for this ever-changing world that we live in," Garabito said. "In order to be prepared, they need to have experiences with different programs such as Microsoft Word or PowerPoint. As an educator, my main goal is that my students are prepared for their future endeavors, regardless of which route they choose."

Her students are "amazing" people who live in poor areas with hard-working parents holding "multiple jobs in order to afford the necessities," she said, adding that many don't speak English as their native language.

Many of her students have to work "more diligently" to master the English language to meet Common Core Standards.

Despite their circumstances, Garabito said her students are not discouraged: "They feel empowered. ... Throughout the year, I am able to see their passion for learning and reach new heights."

Technology doesn't just level the education field, it also makes it more interesting for students and she uses a Smartboard and videos -- even television episodes -- to enhance lesson plans when appropriate.

"I think being able to reach and fulfill my students' inner need to use technology makes learning more meaningful and interesting for them," Garabito said on the donor's page.

To find out more about the Chromebook fundraiser or make a contribution, visit www.donorschoose.org/Mrs.Garabito .

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