Posted on March 19, 2013

Pismo Beach: PG&E Grant Provides Middle School Students with iPads

By Tracy Correa

: Seventh-graders at Judkins Middle School are using iPads, paid for with a PG&E grant, to help them with their pre-algebra school work. (Photos by Tracy Correa.)

PISMO BEACH – There was no question about it, iPads rule hands down over math books, at least this was the consensus of Judkins Middle School  students.

For two weeks, teacher Kristi Fuller’s 7th-grade pre-algebra classroom has been using iPads purchased with a $20,000 PG&E grant. And students like 12-year-old Jeremiah Rodriguez couldn’t be happier.

“It’s better than using a book because I get to see everything on a screen, which is what I prefer,” said Jeremiah, who happily shows off a practice quiz he is taking on the computer tablet.

“If it wasn’t for PG&E, you wouldn’t have these in your hot little hands right now,” Ian Penton, Judkins principal, said as he stood in front of the classroom.

“We’re here today to honor the fact that you have this new technology in front of you,” said PG&E’s Natalie Schaefer, community relations representative in San Luis Obispo. The donation is part of PG&E’s ongoing commitment to education, she told students.

Lorena Valdes, 12, works on pre-algebra graph work on an iPad at Judkins Middle School in Pismo Beach. A $20,000 PG&E grant was used to purchase the classroom set of iPads.

This is not the first time that PG&E has partnered with the Lucia Mar Unified School District to put technology in the hands of students. In 2011, PG&E provided a grant  that paid for iPod Touch devices for students at Lucia Mar Unified’s Oceano Elementary School. Additionally, PG&E provided $250,000 for the recently-opened Central Coast New Tech High School in Nipomo; the school is also part of Lucia Mar Unified.

“This is the direction we need to go,” said Jim Hogeboom, superintendent of Lucia Mar Unified School District as he watched over the students at Judkins doing their math work.

“This is where it’s exciting and frustrating at the same time,” said Hogeboom. He said the availability of technology is exciting, but it’s frustrating when schools don’t have the money to purchase it. “But we’re ecstatic that PG&E has been supportive. They are really good partners,” he said.

Penton said the iPads already are making a difference at his school because they have reinvigorated students about their school work. “We can see in only two weeks the level of excitement,” he said. Penton said students are using critical thinking skills and collaborating because they teach their classmates how to do things on the iPad.

PG&E’s Natalie Schaefer presents a ceremonial $20,000 check to Ian Penton, Judkins Middle School principal (center) and Jim Hogeboom, superintendent of Lucia Mar Unified School District.

Lorena Valdes, 12, said she is looking forward to doing more math work on the iPad. “A book doesn’t explain everything enough the way this does. I feel like I am understanding more,’ she said.

PG&E is a strong supporter of community education programs throughout Northern and Central California, particularly those that help improve student performance in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs.

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