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PSU volunteers help with Joplin High laptop distribution

August 17, 2011 12:00AM

Angela Neria helps Joplin High students Sara Berg, left, and Cassandra Fletcher with their new laptops Wednesday.

For years as the chief information officer for the Joplin School District, Angela Neria had dreamed of the day when every Joplin High School student would carry a laptop computer. That dream was realized Wednesday, but not in a way that Neria, who is now the chief information officer at Pittsburg State University, ever imagined or hoped for.

Neria was part of a team of about 20 PSU volunteers who helped distribute new laptops to Joplin High School students on their first day back at school following the May 22 tornado.

Neria said the Joplin district had earned a reputation as a leader in educational technology. For years, she said, district leaders had looked ahead to the next step in the use of educational technology, but there were always obstacles to making those plans and dreams come true.

The F5 tornado that plowed through Joplin on May 22 destroyed Joplin High School and took with it the district's information infrastructure. Weeks later, private gifts, including a major gift from the United Arab Emirates, helped the district make a giant technological leap forward.

Neria was obviously pleased as students logged on to the district's wireless network and checked out their new computers. It was a bittersweet moment.

"Some of these kids have lost so much," Neria said. "Even if the tornado didn't affect them directly, they have lost their school. The tornado has had a profound affect on all of them. I'm surprised how emotional this has been for me."

©2011 Pittsburg State University