Technology helping to reach kids with special needs

  • Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Chris Sokoloski/Times Lauren Bruce’s TMD class at Georgetown Middle School recently receieved a SMART Board from Toomey’s Kids, a nonprofit that supports special needs classes in Georgetown and Horry counties. Pat and Ted Prehodka of Toomey’s Kids visited the class on Monday morning, along with Dr. Randy Dozier and Dr. Mike Cafaro from the school district.

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Using traditional teaching methods to reach children with special needs can be frustrating and frequently unsuccessful.

But new technology, such as SMART Boards, is making inroads.

Lauren Bruce’s TMD class at Georgetown Middle School has been using its new SMART Board for eight days.

“They were so excited,” Bruce said. “It’s amazing. They love it.”

One of Bruce’s students never went up to the old board and participated with the class.

“He couldn’t handle it,” Bruce said. “It didn’t have any meaning to him.”

He is now an active participant in the class thanks to the SMART Board.

“To watch him come up and be a part of what we do in the morning is awesome because I know he’s smart,” Bruce said. “It was just trying to figure out a way to get through to him.”

Bruce’s SMART Board was donated by Toomey’s Kids, a local nonprofit that supports special needs classes in Georgetown and Horry counties.

“Every kid I’ve seen that got involved with the board, he’s up, he’s moving, he’s touching, he’s seeing things,” said Ted Prehodka, who oversees the nonprofit with his wife, Pat.

This is the fourth SMART Board Toomey’s Kids has donated. The first three went to Socastee High School, Forestbrook Middle School in Myrtle Beach, and Georgetown High School.

“This is the perfect class to get another SMART Board,” Prehodka said. “It’s [Bruce’s] enthusiasm that makes the SMART Board work for me. The teacher really has to want to do it.”

Georgetown High got its SMART Board two years ago.

“What’s great about [Bruce] having a board is that when the kids leave here to go to the high school it will be a continuation,” Prehodka said.

The next step may be to get SMART Boards for Georgetown’s elementary schools to reach younger kids.

Bruce has been scouring the Internet for lessons on SMART Boards and for programs to use with the kids.

The Prehodkas stopped by Georgetown Middle on Monday morning and received a heartfelt thank you and round of applause from the kids.

They enjoyed seeing the kids interact with the SMART Board.

“That’s the joy we get out of it,” Ted Prehodka said.

Toomey’s Kids is a nonprofit that serves 37 classes in 26 schools in Georgetown and Horry counties. They are always looking for donations and volunteers.

For more information go to www.toomeyskids.org.

Toomey’s Kids is supported by the United Way, and people who make donations to the United Way can designate that the money go to Toomey’s Kids.

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