Carroll County arranges loans for teachers to buy computers

September 16, 1997|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,SUN STAFF

Carroll County teachers who have computers at home will be more comfortable using high technology around students: That's the philosophy behind the school system offering a payroll-deduction loan for staff members to buy home computers.

"We have to get up in front of students in a computer lab and teach a lesson, and there are teachers who don't have that comfort level," said Pam Hayes, a fourth-grade teacher at Mechanicsville Elementary School.

The Carroll school system hopes to make it easier for teachers to purchase a home computer.

About 400 of the school system's 2,400 employees have indicated interest through a survey.

Employees can choose from about a half-dozen laptop or desktop models made by Apple or Gateway. Prices are comparable to buying from the manufacturer, and include hands-on training.

The school system has arranged for employee loans at 8.9 percent interest through Union National Bank. The loans will be repaid in one to four years through payroll deduction.

The employee credit unions for Anne Arundel and Howard County schools have provided similar programs for several years.

"The kids look at you and feel like you should know everything, even though we don't aspire to that at all," Hayes said.

Still, she and other teachers want to feel confident about their computer skills.

Hayes has a home computer, but might use the offer to upgrade her equipment. She has found it to be of great help in keeping up with notes to parents, writing lesson plans and creating banners.

She hopes that teachers will be able to use their computers to send e-mail throughout the day, to get input on lessons and exchange information or materials.

"Computers are a relatively new phenomenon, and with a veteran teaching staff, many of those people weren't taught with computers," said Cynthia Eckenrode, principal at Mechanicsville.

Of Anne Arundel's 8,000 school employees, about 800 have bought computers through the county's program. The employee credit union offers loans for computers at 7 percent interest.

In the past, Howard County school employees could repay a computer loan from their credit union through payroll deduction.

Pub Date: 9/16/97

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