Anonymous donor gifts thousands to Lutie School


Mende Thorn, a French and history teacher at Lutie High School, pictured center, answers a question from Hailey Taylor about an assignment last week. This photo was snapped as the students in Thorn’s class were using their individual laptops to do research for reports on pre-colonial tribes and civilizations native to the Americas. The laptops are part of the 1:1 Initiative, a program made possible by the financial support of a single private donor. Also pictured, from left, front row, are Zacharia Collins, Coby Dooley, Andrew Ault, Lance Day and Jaden Thompson. Middle row: BreAnna Guidry, Mende Thorne, Hailey Taylor, Mirah Scott and Katelynn Ford. Pictured at the far table: Morgan Smith, with her back to the camera, Mason Jennings and Tyler Garrison.

Thanks to the continued generous donations of a private donor, a brand-new shipment of Chromebooks, personal laptop computers, was delivered to Lutie High School students last week, superintendent Scot Young said. The laptops are part of a program dubbed the 1:1 Initiative, which provides every student at Lutie School, from kindergarten through 12th grade with their own laptop or iPad.

This year, every student in sixth through 12th grades have their own laptop, and all students in kindergarten through fifth grade have their own iPad. IPads are also available for preschool instruction, but not on the 1-to-1 basis. Young says approximately 150 laptops and iPads are now being utilized at Lutie School.

Prior to this year, laptops were provided for students in ninth grade, and they used that same device through their senior year and were able to keep them after graduation. With the laptops being issued in sixth grade now, Young says, they will need to rework the program since the devices will be out of date by the time the students are seniors. But it’s likely they will still be able to keep their device after graduation. 

“We’re in an age of instant information, and these tools are really helpful for instruction in the classroom,” Young said. “The teachers have gone through training with our tech people here to help them use the computers to teach. It really levels the playing field for all the students, providing everyone with tools to help them learn. It’s great for the teachers too. There’s no need for them to sign up for the computer lab now. Their classrooms are the computer lab.”

The pricy initiative, now in its fourth year at Lutie, has been funded 100 percent by a single donor who has asked to be anonymous, Young said.

The donor has also provided the financial support for a wide variety of other programs at Lutie, including more than  $4,000 in field trips last year, teacher grants for various classroom equipment, recognition gifts for teachers and employees, financial backing for the Art Club and for the Family and Consumer Science (FACs) group. Most recently, the donor contributed $10,000 for playground equipment that is soon to be delivered and installed at Lutie School. 

Among the many ways this individual has helped provide aid to the school, the 1:1 Initiative is one of the most impactful, Young said. “Lots of schools are doing this now, but with a school our size, with our level of financial resources, it’s not that common. It’s something we just probably couldn’t do to this extent on our own. It’s just a pretty good feeling knowing that our students are benefitting from this in this way.” 

One might assume someone who is making such a large impact in such a tiny school surely has a child or family member within the district, but Young says that isn’t the case. The donor lives out of state and had no connection at all to the Lutie School District when he first contacted Young to inquire about making a donation.

“The connection really comes kudos to you all,” Young told the Times Monday. “When he first contacted me, he told me he saw an article in the local newspaper. I’m not sure which article it was now, but it prompted him to go look up our Facebook page and give me a call. He said, ‘Just tell me, how can I help?’ and the rest is history. It’s been so positive for the district and the kids here,” Young said. “I’m thankful every day for the support, and I know the students are too. We really are blessed.”

Ozark County Times

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