Provided by Prince William County Schools (PWCS)
Virginia STAR (VA STAR) recently awarded 10 computers to a Prince William County family with 10 children, providing needed tools for successful students. VA STAR is a state-wide student training and refurbishment program administered by SPARK Education Foundation and Prince William County Public Schools.
“To me this is such a blessing,” said the children’s mom, who asked to keep her identity private. “A few of my children struggle with learning. They were not able to log on to programs that can help them from home. My older children have school projects and we had to try to find a way to get them to the library, which is hard with just one car. We were borrowing computers to get things done. They are borrowing our phones to download learning apps. Some of my children have social anxiety and sometimes they need to work from home. We are totally grateful.”
Mom and Dad have 10 children ranging in age from 6 to 22. All the school-aged children attend school in PWCS.
Dad said he has struggled to provide for the 10 children, and that other priorities have made it difficult to make technology available to his children.
“It hurts that I can’t provide for them because of a $600 electric bill,” he said. “We are so grateful. This is a stepping stone for their learning.”
“We do our best,” Mom said. “We have happy children and we do not want to bombard them with the stress of our bills.”
Chuck Drake, state coordinator for Virginia STAR, said the donation of 10 computers is the largest single donation made to one family. He said that fifth grade students in PWCS completed the refurbishment of the computers.
“It is students helping students,” Drake said. “We like reaching this milestone.”
“We have been through ups and downs with our kids, but we do our best,” Mom said. “Hopefully, one day we can pay it forward. This is awesome.”
Through VA STAR, the refurbished computers are donated to families, organizations, and school districts that wish to use them. Through participation in the program, students work toward earning industry-standard certifications which can pave the way for both higher education and well-paying jobs.
Virginia STAR is currently in over 70 schools spanning 44 school districts throughout the Commonwealth. The program is maintained and coordinated through SPARK, the education foundation for PWCS, primarily from the model-site at Forest Park High School. To date, STAR has fixed, upgraded, and even trained many of the new owners of more than 14,000 computers.