Students of migrant families get gift of laptops from ECU library


Erika Santiago, a student at E.B. Frink Middle School, receives a laptop and accessories from LCPS Migrant Education Program coordinator Estefeny Diaz. (Lenoir County Public Schools photo)

KINSTON, N.C. — For students of migrant farmworker families in Lenoir County Public Schools, it might seem that Santa Claus has relocated to Laupus Library at East Carolina University.

A $75,000 federal grant awarded to the ECU library brought early Christmas presents of Lenovo laptops and accessories to 45 of these LCPS students. In all, the grant provided 100 laptops to students in eastern North Carolina, including 16 in Greene County, whose Migrant Education Program is administered by LCPS.

“Each laptop comes with a backpack, headphone/microphone headset and two USB drives, one loaded with the WiderNet ‘Pocket Library,’ a customized pocket library of health information sources,” said Laupus Library Associate Director Roger Russell, who helped coordinator the project.

An educational component of the laptop project developed by Laupus Library staff provided the Migrant Education Program staff and English as a second language teachers in Lenoir, Greene, Wayne and Pitt counties with instruction on how to find reputable health information online.

 “Even in the midst of a global pandemic, arguably the worst time to connect with anyone, we have connected with so many people working within our eastern North Carolina schools through programs like MEP and English as a Second Language (ESL) who are incredibly grateful for this project and what it offers,” Russell said.

The laptops were distributed to LCPS students through the district’s Migrant Education Program earlier this month. The Migrant Education Program leads the effort to coordinate the education of students who move frequently as families follow the agriculture season.

“On behalf of the Federal Program Department and the Migrant Education Program of LCPS, we are extremely grateful to have been selected to participate in this project,” Beverly Kee, the district’s Federal Program director, said.

The laptop project follows a related grant-funded project from ECU that provided hotspot internet connectivity for these same migrant communities.

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