St. Theodore uses pancake fundraiser to fund technology program

Published 12:01 am Friday, November 10, 2017

St. Theodore students, teachers and parents are hoping that a stack of pancakes can stack up some serious cash on Sunday morning.

The school has set a fundraising goal of $10,000 for the event, which it’s hosting to raise money for its technology program.

The school hosts a pancake breakfast fundraiser every year. Last year’s proceeds went toward updating the school’s reading curriculum. This year, it’s about iPads and Chromebooks.

Email newsletter signup

“It’s not enough just to know how to type and how to work a mouse anymore,” school board member and parent Erin Haag said.

According to Haag, local districts all make their own guidelines when it comes to technology. St Theodore’s technical adviser Mike Johnson met at the state level with the Minnesota Nonpublic School Accreditation Association to discuss what the school can be doing to stay competitive.

For St. Theodore, the goal is to create a higher ratio of technology to students. Right now, kindergarteners and first-graders are working with iPads in a 1:2 ratio. Additionally, they’re hoping to diversity students’ experience with technology.

“We need to make sure they’re being trained across three different platforms,” Haag said.

Some of this relates to standardized testing, which is computerized. Additionally, though, St. Theodore’s parent association president Neda Johnson said increasing technology use in the classroom has benefits outside the classroom, too.

“It brings the parents around to being more involved,” Johnson said.

St. Theodore is working with an app that allows parents to see things like teacher feedback and spelling lists. Teachers can also post videos on the app, which helps parents stay informed about what’s happening in the classroom. Johnson said this is especially useful for parents, who sometimes don’t get the full picture of class time from their children.

Haag said it has facilitated conversation with her daughter about her education.

“I want to bring the conversation back to what she’s learning about,” Haag said.

Additionally, using technology like the app, which also has reading and math work for students to utilize, integrates computer skills into everyday subjects, which is more efficient than a set-aside computer class and also more representative of how students will continue to use technology as they grow, Haag said.

The goal in providing more technology, then, is “to meet or exceed the standards that are met at a public school,” Johnson said.

And while Johnson and Haag acknowledged that technology does need updating, Haag said so do other aspects of a school. Science and history textbooks, for example.

“We also have to remember we update curriculum,” Haag said. “So I think technology gets a bad rap.”

St. Theodore is working to establish a base with the funds so that future updates are more feasible to work into the school budget.

The Rev. Kurt Farrell, who is the priest at St. Theodore, said the technology is necessary for a functioning school.

“These are not fringe benefits,” Farrell said. “These are the mashed potatoes and gravy.”

But this weekend, it will be the pancakes and syrup.

The fundraiser runs from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Parent volunteers will make the pancakes, and confirmation students will help. The menu includes pancakes, sausage, eggs, and biscuits and gravy.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

email author More by Sarah