Many schools set up a computer-for-each-kid program only to realize that not every kid has broadband access at home. That level playing field just got un-leleved again. When that happened at Wintercrest Community Schools they tried an innovative approach, as reported by EdSurge…
As she (Susie Meade, the superintendent of Winterset Community Schools) began thinking about ways to help Winterset students get home internet access, Meade recalled hearing about a district that had tapped local businesses to allow students to come in after school hours and use their Wi-Fi for free. “And I thought, ‘Well, we could do that,’” she says.
Nestled in a small, rural town about 25 miles southwest of Des Moines, Winterset Community Schools serves about 1,700 K-12 students. The town itself, with about 5,000 residents, frequently congregates in a “vibrant” downtown area, which is only about three blocks from the local K-12 schools, Meade says.
The people in Winterset are highly invested in and supportive of the local school district, she adds. That’s due, in part, because Winterset is a close-knit community. But it also has something to do with the proximity of the town square to the schools and what Meade describes as a setting and charm “fit for a Norman Rockwell painting.”
The project got off the ground very quickly. It was so easy, Meade says, that it was almost strange.
First, she called the Madison County Chamber of Commerce to clear the idea. With their support, Meade went to town—literally. She spent a day knocking on doors of local businesses, asking if they’d be willing to host students who just needed to finish their homework with an internet connection.
Not a single person turned her down, she says. More than a dozen businesses—coffee shops, restaurants, bakeries, bookstores, libraries and grocery stores, to name a few—opened their doors to students.