Dr. Edward H. Hammond, president of Fort Hays State University, traveled to Greensburg on Thursday to set the stage for training of first teachers and then students on the state-of-the-art computing equipment that the university assisted the tornado-ravaged school district acquire.
John Ross, director of FHSU's Forsyth Library, accompanied the president on his trip to Greensburg. As the author of seven books and numerous articles about computer technologies, electronics, networking and leadership, Ross has provided valuable technical assistance for the Greensburg schools.
FHSU has been working behind the scenes to assist Greensburg USD 422 with its recovery since the devastating tornado struck earlier this year. The university's participation was motivated by a natural interest in education, and also by the fact that Darin Headrick, the Greensburg superintendent of schools, and Randy Fulton, principal of Greensburg High School, are both FHSU alumni.
President Hammond was in China during the immediate aftermath of the tornado, so he appointed, Todd Powell, FHSU's general counsel, to lead the university's initial assistance efforts. Powell helped gather quotes for modular trailers, portable gym floors and other temporary facilities, and he assisted USD 422 officials with the process of getting reimbursements from FEMA.
Ross worked on behalf of the school district with a variety of companies to acquire computing equipment. As a result of his efforts, 200 tablet PCs and related equipment arrived in Greensburg this week. On Thursday, President Hammond and Ross met with Headrick and Fulton on the temporary USD 422 campus to evaluate the steps that will be needed to incorporate the new technology into the curriculum.
The devastation of most the town has caused many people to relocate, at least temporarily. Plans are in process to rebuild the schools, and President Hammond said that by making the district a model for computing technology, many parents would be encouraged to return their children to the Greensburg schools.
"If we show them a good option, they'll come back," Headrick agreed. "All we have to do is show them a good option."
Several things were accomplished Thursday:
"With limited personnel, time is the real restriction for us," Headrick said. "By taking over the computing concerns for us, FHSU has freed us up to do other things. The help provided by the university allowed us to get the temporary facilities in place quickly so that we were able to start the new school year on time."
Although he was not able to make the trip on Thursday, Powell said it had been an honor to work with the Greensburg school officials. "Seeing the devastation first-hand was something you couldn't imagine from the news reports," he said. "The ability of the superintendent and his staff to set aside personal considerations and focus in and put all their energy into rebuilding their schools was inspiring. John Ross and I discussed that it's really a case study in how to rebuild a school system after a disaster. It’s certainly a cause that was easy to get behind."
"I was very inspired by the people of Greensburg," said Ross. "I was honored to have the opportunity to work with them."