Energy company gives to school

NextEra donates large sum to tech department in New England

NextEra Energy didn’t wait for project approval before giving back to the community when it donated $20,000 to the fire and ambulance departments of New England in March.

Students pose with the donation check from NextEra Energy Resources. NextEra donated over $30,000 to the technology department of New England Public School. The money will be used to purchase tablets for education in the classroom. (Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)
Students pose with the donation check from NextEra Energy Resources. NextEra donated over $30,000 to the technology department of New England Public School. The money will be used to purchase tablets for education in the classroom.
(Photo by Cole Benz/The Herald)

By COLE BENZ
Herald Editor

NextEra Energy didn’t wait for project approval before giving back to the community when it donated $20,000 to the fire and ambulance departments of New England in March. And the company continued the giving after the PSC awarded them a siting permit for their 72-turbine wind farm last week.

Representatives were at New England Public School on Friday, July 8 to present a donation of $32,499.75 to the school’s technology department that will go towards the purchase of another set of Microsoft Surface Tablets.

Melissa Hochmuth, Project Director with NextEra Energy Resources, said that when they come to a community they like to diversify their support throughout the area.

“We not only develop and construct [wind farms], but we also operate these projects, so we’re here to stay for the long haul,” Hochmuth said. “So we look for different opportunities to support the land owners and the local communities that we’re in.”

She said when they first came to the area she contacted New England Superintendent Kelly Koppinger and filled him in with the details of the project and how they would be involved in the community in the school district.

The school had been working on purchasing another mobile computer lab, equipped with the tablets, and the company saw this as a good opportunity for the partnership to develop.

“We’re here today to present the check for the mobile computer lab,” Hochmuth said to the crowd in the New England school gymnasium.

Shannay Witte, a teacher and Technology Coordinator with New England School, said they will be purchasing 24 new tablets along with the charging cart that will house the devices.

“They’re fully functioning computers, [the tablet is] just like a laptop,” Witte said. “Those carts will be able to go around the classrooms.”

The carts are designed to be able to house all the tablets and charge them at the same time.

Witte said that the curriculum for the tablets is easily adjusted to the age level. Kindergartners could use it in the morning to practice their spelling, while seniors could use them in the afternoon to write a term paper.

“There’s unlimited applications for using them in any classroom,” she said.

Witte said she chose the Surface Tablets because of the versatility. Apple iPads are great media and entertainment devices that can help with education, but the Surface Tablets allows her to install any software that is PC compatible.

“[The Surface Table] is a lot more flexible,” Witte said.

The new addition to the tech department will supplement the current devices the school already owns. Witte said they have had devices in the classrooms for three years, so the transition will be seamless for the staff and students.

“This will add to what we already have,” she said. “So the kids already know how to use them, they’re already very familiar with them.”

The popularity of the devices has grown in the three years the school has had them, so this will allow more students to use them at the same time, easing the burden of waiting for some to be free.

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