The Monarch School of New England, which serves children with special needs, had about 24 aging computers at its Rochester, N.H. campus, ranging from seven to 10 years old.
Crashes were common, Internet service was spotty and software was years out of date. Worst of all, children with learning disabilities struggled to learn when computers were slow or unresponsive.
That’s all changed because of a technology makeover worth more than $100,000 from CMIT Solutions, a managed IT provider for small businesses, in partnership with Dell and Microsoft. The school won the prize in a Halloween-themed contest: Tell Us Your Technology Nightmare. The school began using the technology in spring 2011, and students are excelling.
The Monarch School serves 33 children, ranging in age from 5 to 21, with severe physical and developmental disabilities.
“Enjoyment and passion are definitely what I see,” says Dr. Tom Grebouski, the school’s chief of psychology. “We see them smile, their eyes light up. The technology makeover not only made a difference in the kids, it affected the staff. It makes an enormous difference in the kids’ learning.”
The makeover included 15 Dell work stations with Microsoft software; a Dell server; 42-inch monitors in each of the school’s five classrooms; and one year of CMIT Solutions IT services provided by Steve Gesing and Wayne Demers, owners of the CMIT Solutions of The Merrimack Valley franchise.
“We’ve been able to provide them with services the school would never have been able to afford, and that sentiment comes out every time we walk into the building,” Demers says. “They couldn’t be happier with what CMIT has been able to provide for their school.”
The makeover has had three immediate, measurable benefits, Grebouski said:
- The students get exposure to advanced technology that helps narrow the learning gap between them and their peers in public school.
- The students’ engagement in their learning has “improved dramatically.”
- Teachers can adopt Internet-based educational programs that previously would have been unthinkable and “expose children to a wealth of learning opportunities.”
CMIT Solutions technicians are continually monitoring and upgrading the school’s IT system and will do so in the coming months, Grebouski says. “We are by no means done working with CMIT.”
Gesing and Demers started their careers as educators, so working with The Monarch School has special resonance for them.
“For us, coming back and getting into this business and working with this school that absolutely needed our services was a real plus,” Demers said. “We’re a couple of old football players. We don’t cry much. But when they got that award, there was not a dry eye between us. We got a little verklempt, I think is the Yiddish word for it.”