Down Country brings iPads into the classroom

Dougherty's seen the effects the iPad has had on her own son, who has Down Syndrome.

New technology is on the way for dozens of Tri-State area schools. It's all thanks to an organization called, Down Country .

The organization was formed last year with a focus on children with special needs. This year, Co-founder Kate Dougherty put her focus in the classroom.

"We live in a great community and once people know where the need is, they'll do everything they can to supply that need," Dougherty said. "Most of the time, our larger cities are defining our policy and/or our funding situations. This is a way for our rural communities to create a voice on the national level."

Since March, Dougherty raised enough money to provide 104 iPads to area teachers, many of which she distributed to Monday evening at an event for educators at the Park Bench in Quincy.

The Palmyra School District was the first to receive these iPads over the summer. Superintendent Eric Churchwell says this will greatly benefit the individual needs of his students.

"About 14 to 15 percent of our student population has some type of special need. So, in a district our size, you're talking somewhere between 160-175 kids," Churchwell said.

"With the introduction of the iPads, you can really look at specific skills and be able to help those students, so you're able to demonstrate and show growth that they're working on," Lora Hillman, the principal at Palmyra Elementary School said.

"Not only the devices themselves, but also the training and support that's there is really beneficial," Churchwell said.

These iPads are intended to help children with special needs, but more importantly, everyone in the classroom.

"All kids might need reteaching of a certain skill. So, to have that technology as a support, it's motivation for a child, you're able to track progress and teachers are able to network and exchange ideas on how they can improve their teaching or use that as a supplemental resource," Hillman said.

"We're trying to get this communication going between teachers and families and therapists and making it a positive line of communication. This is a great way you can help your community," Dougherty said.

There are still hundreds more classrooms that could benefit from the iPads, but they're going to need your donations. Each costs close to 400 dollars. Another 60 teachers have registered to be on the Down Country iPad waiting list for next year.