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MSU computers serve while Smithville rebuilds
MISSISSIPPI STATE – More than a year after a tornado ripped through the small town of Smithville, students are returning to temporary classrooms, but they still have access to current technology.
The Mississippi State University Extension Center for Technology Outreach, formerly known as Computer Applications and Services, donated 40 refurbished computers to the Monroe County School District for the schools in Smithville.
Elizabeth Sims, a Smithville Information and Communication Technology II teacher, was finishing her last week of maternity leave when the tornado destroyed much of the town, including the schools.
“I was preparing to return to school and finish out the year strong, but when the tornado struck, it was a different feeling, as I did not have my classroom to return to,” said Sims. “After the tornado, the desire to ‘finish strong’ had a whole new meaning to me.”
Smithville schools were closed for only two days after the campus was damaged. During those two days, a temporary campus was set up to finish out the school year.
Sims said trying to adjust to the temporary campus was strange, but it did not take very long to make the trailers into welcoming classrooms.
“Of course we miss our old campus, but our teachers and students have made the temporary campus our new home for now,” said Sims. “Being able to be back together as a school was the most important step, no matter where or what type of building we were in.”
The Mississippi State University Extension Service was in the process of upgrading computers in county offices throughout the state when the tornado hit Smithville, and the staff immediately knew what to do with the surplus equipment.
“We felt Smithville schools could really benefit from the donation of computers,” said Randy Loper, Extension Center for Technology Outreach department head. “We are living in a technology-driven world, and we were happy to be able to work with the Monroe County Extension staff to help get the students the technology they needed.”
Alan Pearson, district technology director for Monroe County, said the donated MSU Extension computers benefited teachers and students in many classrooms.
“We were able to salvage most of the computers in the student computer labs, but we lost most of the computers that were in classrooms,” Pearson said. “We gave the teachers the laptops and docking stations, then set up a desktop computer in each room for the students.”
Sims said teachers are grateful for the computers and laptops donated to Smithville schools.
“Not a single teacher was left without a computer,” she said.
School officials anticipate this will be the last year in the temporary campus, but they hope to get another year or two out of the donated equipment.
“We certainly appreciate the MSU family thinking of us during the aftermath of the tornado,” said Monroe County Superintendent Scott Cantrell.