January 25, 2012


St. Mary’s boosts tech learning

New computer lab dedicated to benefactor Joseph Buttino


Bob Ellis/staff photographer
St. Mary’s School second-grader Nick Yonta works in the newly dedicated Joseph Buttino Memorial Computer Lab Tuesday as his teacher, Theresa Smith, helps another student.

Staff Reporter

Thirty new touch-screen computers now fill a room at St. Mary’s School, immensely helping the technology curriculum at the school, educators said during a dedication ceremony Tuesday.
The new computer lab, which opened within the past two months, was dedicated to the late Joseph Buttino, whose endowment allowed the school to purchase new computers for the lab and classrooms as well as overhead projectors.
Sixth-grader Isabella Sprague said at the ceremony it was hard to learn how to use a computer before the technology upgrade.
Third grade teacher Sheila Guido, a technology integration specialist, said the new technology made it possible to create a computer lab. Previously students relied on two or three computers in each classroom and the computers were old and not energy efficient.
The new Acer Veriton computers are touch screen capable and the overhead projectors enable teachers to use interactive PowerPoint presentations during their lessons. One projector is in that room and others are in other rooms.
“We’re integrating technology into all our subject areas,” Guido said.
Third-graders use the computers to practice timed math facts, fifth-graders have used them to do projects related to Roman gods and goddesses and sixth-graders have created “prezis,” which are the interactive presentations, she said.
Buttino, a 1941 graduate of St. Mary’s, went on to serve in the Army during World War II, then enrolled at Cornell University and graduated in 1951 with a degree in Slavic languages and Russian literature.
Buttino worked for 56 years at Cornell, as an aide to two university presidents and then as an editor in development, retiring in June 2009 at age 85. He died in August 2010.
The new room was part of a $35,000 overhaul of the school’s technology system. The money came from a combination of endowment funds and other funding sources, said Principal Denise Hall.
The dedication ceremony paid homage to Buttino’s generosity and contributions to St. Mary’s School over the years.
Past principal of St. Mary’s Sister Harriet Hamilton recalled how Buttino gave her a check for $2,000 in 1992 to create an education trust fund for the school. Over the years his contributions grew and he kept track of the funds, ensuring the money went for its intended purpose, she said.
“Joe has done an awful lot for us, and this computer lab is truly amazing. It shows Joe’s devotion to the school and his desire that it be here for many years to come,” Hamilton said.
Hall said the modern technology is important because it has made the students excited to learn.
“The lecture style classroom doesn’t cut it,” Hall said. “They need hands on. Technology is such a tool, it’s silly not to use it.”
The school’s technology curriculum focuses on “cyber ethics,” said Hall. The course teaches students what is appropriate and safe use of the Internet, she said.
“Often they feel that behind a computer they are more free with what they put out there,” Hall said.


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