This spring, Paula Ramsay’s special education preschool classroom at the Vineland campus received a very special delivery, and a teacher’s dream to add technology to her classroom finally came true when TAP-it (Touch Accessible Platform for Interactive Technology) arrived.
TAP-it is an interactive whiteboard designed for people with special needs, like Ramsay’s preschoolers who have autism.
“The board is portable, adjustable in height, and has the ability to tilt and assist students who need support as they access the touch screen,” explained Ramsey.
Because TAP-it is made for people with disabilities, it has some very unique capabilities like understanding the difference between intended and unintended touch by a leaning child. TAP-it utilizes SMARTboard software and can also be used with specialized software so that teachers can create interactive lessons using picture icons.
Ramsay first spotted TAP-it at a resource specialist convention in Sacramento. After a brief demonstration, Ramsay learned that she could try TAP-it in her classroom for 30 days in order to test it out with her students. The trial was a big success. Students were drawn to TAP-it immediately after it was plugged in, but with a price tag $14,000, keeping this piece of technology in the classroom was a long shot. Ramsay posted the project on a website named DonorsChoose.org and held her breath.
At Back to School Night this past August, the passionate teacher mentioned her desire to acquire more technology for the classroom to Kari & Bill Rumsey, parents of one of her new students. Kari & Bill accepted the challenge and immediately started to brainstorm ways that they could raise the $14,000 needed to make TAP-it a reality for Ramsay’s students. Together with their friend, comedian Kul Black, the Rumsey’s organized three benefit comedy shows that raised over $1,500 to jump start fundraising efforts.
With the project window on DonorsChoose expiring, Ramsay took to social media sites including Facebook and Twitter to reach out to the local and national community in hopes of connecting with potential donors. Over $3,000 came in, but with 50 days left until the project expired, Ramsay had all but given up hope that TAP-it would ever be funded for her students.
While on Twitter one night Ramsay received a direct message from a teacher who informed her that the Vineland TAP-it project had appeared on a second website named OO.com, and that it would be funded if the teacher could rally enough online voters to support the project. Ramsay again called on Kari & Bill to see if they could help her connect with people who would be willing to vote for the TAP-it project. The Rumseys worked day and night for three days encouraging their friends and family to vote and with just 48 days left, OO.com (owned by NextJump) funded the remaining $11,000 making TAP-it a reality for Ramsay’s preschoolers with autism.
“I appreciate the support of my coworkers at Vineland, the families, student body, friends and family, Kari and Bill Rumsey, Kul Black, and everyone who lent their support,” expressed Ramsey. “And extra special thanks to DonorsChoose.org, OO.com, and NextJump for making the dream of bringing TAP-it to Vineland a reality!”
Kari and Bill Rumsey didn’t stop with TAP-it. They encouraged their son’s teacher to write four more projects that would be dually posted on DonorsChoose.org and OO.com in order to bring even more technology to their son’s preschool classroom. Once again, the Rumsey’s rallied their friends & family, and the remaining classroom projects including a new laptop, software, toilet training alarms, and an Integrated Listening System were also funded by NextJump.
The impact that these parents have had on one classroom of preschoolers is immeasurable. Without Kari & Bill’s determination on behalf of their son, the preschoolers at Vineland would not have the opportunity to use the latest technology available. The technology will be used by Vineland students for years to come. Kari and Bill were recently honored by Vineland’s Principal Axel Hannemann at a Neighborhood Schools Celebration where they received an “Inspire” award for all their work and dedication for students in the community.