There Ain’t No Stoppin’ Them Now!

“You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality.” ~Walt Disney

cc licensed flickr photo shared by Tim Riley 澳大利亚

We can learn a lot from Walt Disney. His dreams and collaboration with others created the “Happiest Place on Earth.” This week, a school’s visions and dreams became a reality. In these tight economical time, having a vision of creating a 1 to 1 student:computer ratio for 110 5th graders seemed quite lofty. The principal’s dream spread to his 5th grade teachers, the school-wide technology committee, the school’s grant writing expert (music teacher) and the school’s instructional coach. Together this group worked to design and create a vision to bring the 5th graders (and adults alike) into the 21st Century.

A letter to a foundation and several grants have been written to date. The grant writing process, itself, can be taxing. In some cases we’ve poured out our heart and soul into a grant, only to be denied. Yet one letter/application yielded a donation of 50 netbook computers! Thank you, Gateway Foundation!

For the past six weeks the four 5th grade classrooms have been blogging at Kidblog. The schools only computer lab, of 24 computers, is shared by the 710 students at the school. Computer lab time has been limited! We started this project letting the students know they were geniuses and the world demanded their contribution thanks to the inspiration of Seth Godin and Angela Maiers. My recent blog, And the Oscar Goes To, expresses thoughts about the project.

We’ve known for a while that we’d be receiving the netbook computers. The computers first had to undergo preparation by district tech specialists (thanks to all who worked on the computers). Then came a week of Iowa Test of Basic Skills testing. We chose not to distract the students with the excitement of the computers and let them focus on doing their best on the test!

They are here!

This past Tuesday the secret was revealed and the netbooks were unveiled. The smiles, gasps, cheers, and applause said it all. Some sat in disbelief even stating later that they just couldn’t believe this dream came true! The students have known for quite some time we were trying to obtain computers for them. Many would ask when the computers were coming, way before we even knew our dream was becoming a reality. It was a thrill to deliver a portion of the schools 1:1 dream to the current 5th grade!

Tuesday and Wednesday were then devoted to learning how to operate the new netbooks. Now the teachers, students, and I can actually feel what it must be like in 1:1 schools. Plans are underway in how to incorporate this gold mine into the existing curriculum.

The students were full of questions as we distributed the computers. It was new learning for all of us as we acclimated ourselves to the features. But once the students reached familiar territory (their blogs) they set sail! Their first mission was to write a thank you blog to the Gateway Foundation. Once again, their thoughts are amazing. Their deep gratitude for this gift shines through each post.

What have we learned: When writing grants it is helpful to sport the “you win some, you lose some” mentality. Continually working toward the dream is more beneficial that fixating on the outcome of the individual grants once they are submitted. I’m a firm believer that if you put your best in something, the best will come back to you. That said, patience is the key. Not everything will turn out in your favor. The journey itself brings new learning and opportunities to strengthen each subsequent grant.

We can’t just wait for someday. Looking back, and as the school continues to move forward, everyone involved has embodied the elements of turning SOMEDAY into REALITY detailed in the blog post “Don’t Wait for Someday” at From Desire to Success. The elements include:

  • Clarity – Get absolutely clear on what you want. (The school knew they wanted a 1:1 environment for the 5th Graders.)
  • Desire – Create a strong enough desire that you’re willing to do what it takes to make it a reality. (Their desire came from a deep commitment to closing the digital divide and providing their students the same access as others.)
  • Belief – Create the belief that you can achieve your goal. (The collaboration of many created a belief in this project!)
  • Plan – Create a solid plan of action. (Actions were created. Roles were developed.)
  • Decide and Commit – Make the decision and fully commit to it. (There was no turning back once the vision was created. And it continues…)
  • Take Action – Begin immediately to take action toward your goal, and execute your plan. (Grants were sought out. Grants were written. Grants were revised. Grants were sent. And the search for funding continues!)

This gift has provided the students a glimpse into their futures. Earlier in this journey we created a video, Help Fund School’s 1:1 Efforts, to help send out our message. It was a message of their hopes and dreams. They continue to strive to do their best with the compassionate and never-ending support of their teachers who fulfill their district’s mission daily!

The Sioux City Community School District exists to educate students to believe in
their talents and skills, achieve academic excellence and succeed in reaching
their potential.


The next two months of school is going to be an amazing ride!


  • Carol Ragan 27 Mar

    Congratulations Kathy. And thanks for all you do for the students!

    • Kathy Perret 27 Mar

      Thanks for the comment, Carol. Congratulations goes to many. It will be amazing to watch what the kids accomplish in the next few months!

  • Denise Krebs 27 Mar

    Wow, Kathy, how exciting! You are so proud and happy; I can tell from your post. The next two months will be exciting! I like the challenge to not wait for someday, but to take the steps today to make it a reality! Great job.


    P.S. So sorry to have missed EDCampOmaha. I was home with laryngitis and a cough.

    • Kathy Perret 27 Mar

      Thanks, Denise. It has been an exciting journey – one step at a time.

      Get well soon! I was looking forward to seeing you at EdCampOmaha! It was a great day of learning. Be sure to check out the Twitter stream and the Wiki for lots of great info!

  • Rich McGrath 27 Mar

    Kathy, thanks for keeping the dream alive for these geniuses. Our teachers and students (and principal) will expand their learning because of our steps toward our goals. Onward!

    • Kathy Perret 27 Mar

      It is a pleasure to work with the 5th graders. I’ve learned so much from these geniuses. They teach me something new everyday!

      Dreams are meant to be reached! Thanks for the VISION!

      Now to use these steps with other DREAMS. Onward!

  • Robin Phares 27 Mar

    I am so happy for you my cyber friend. What an exciting time. I can only imagine how your students will take off now that you and the great people you work with have worked so hard to give them their wings. Can’t wait to hear! YIPEE!!!

    • Kathy Perret 27 Mar

      Thanks, Robin! Yes, these kids are ready to SOAR! I’m sure the wonderful websites you share on your blog will come in handy!!

      I’ll keep you posted, my cyber-friend!

  • Brooke 27 Mar

    This is such great news, Kathy! I would’ve loved to see the reactions on the kids faces when they saw the netbooks for the first time. I can’t wait to read about how these tools transform learning in your school!

    • Kathy Perret 27 Mar

      Thanks, Brooke. The picture, above, doesn’t even capture their reaction. It was so much fun to present the netbooks to them. I work with the school one day a week. It will be a new learning experience for all of us! I’m sure there will be other blog posts!

  • Aviva (@grade1) 28 Mar

    Wow Kathy! I agree with everyone else. This is definitely very exciting! I look forward to seeing how the students and teachers using these computers in the coming months of school. Way to go in helping to make this dream a reality!


    • Kathy Perret 28 Mar

      Thanks, Aviva! It has been a wonderful experience! I’m thrilled that the students have this opportunity to take a bigger step into the 21st Century! I’m sure there will be a lot to blog about!

  • Carmel Crevola 28 Mar

    Congratulations! This is brilliant. I love the photo of the kids with their heads down and all involved. This is the future and how exciting it is! How l
    Ing since you saw a class of 5 th graders so totally engaged?
    Your experiences will be invaluable for others as they strive to get the resources they desire. But you are so right when you say to focus on the process rather than the outcome because yes, grant writer can often seem like a thankless task but if you persist and if the cause is a great one in the end you will win! You did!
    I look forward to hearing more news as you move forward.

    • Kathy Perret 28 Mar

      Thanks, Carmel. All 4 classes of 5th graders have been remarkable – yes, totally engaged! Their writing continues to improve with each blog post. We are anxious to start using the computers in other capacities as well. More news to come…

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