Second-grade elementary school teacher Deb Boros is no stranger to the limelight in her profession.
Two years ago, she won $10,000 for being named an Outstanding Educator by the Whitney and Elizabeth MacMillan Foundation.
That same year, she won an award from the Council for Elementary Science International. In 1998, she got a Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching. The list goes on.
This time, Boros' shot at a moment of fame will transform her classroom.
Boros and her second-grade class at Anoka-Hennepin's Mississippi Elementary School in Coon Rapids recently won the elementary school category of the "Technology Classroom of the Future" award.
Sponsored by Tierney Brothers, a Minneapolis audio-visual systems design firm, the award is a $17,000 technology overhaul for the classrooms of the winners. Forty-six Minnesota classes competed for the prizes. Other winners included the computer club at Sandburg Middle School, in Golden Valley, and the DECA business club chapter at Forest Lake High School.
"I wanted my students to have the most cutting-edge equipment," said the 52-year-old Boros, who has been a teacher for 26 years. "We certainly couldn't afford it ourselves."
What the high-tech overhaul includes is a Smart Board, an interactive replacement for the old chalkboard that allows a teacher to display all kinds of movies, artwork and computerized images on a screen in front of the classroom. What also comes with the high-tech makeover package is all kinds of other Smart Board stuff, such as a projector, a sound system and a special document camera. Students will also have clickers so they can answer questions posted on the Smart Board; Boros will be able to monitor the answers student by student.
Boros and her students won the makeover by submitting a plan for starting a potted plant business. The students will raise plants, decorate pots to put them in, take orders for the plants, buy the supplies and sell stock in their company for $5 a share. The plan, Boros said, is to be able to pay the investors back 20 percent interest. The business will incorporate academics, as students learn about math, vocabulary and the concept of producing consumer goods.
Boros said she hopes the new technology will help her reach children who might not respond to conventional teaching methods.
"If I'm writing something on the board, they can just watch me," she said. "Not anymore. Because of the projection screen, they're right there. They can almost put themselves there, and they can manipulate things and move them around."
Boros' classroom makeover is set for Jan. 28 and 29. She plans to put her new gear to use the next day. The award-winning teacher also plans to share her newfound bounty. During her preparation hour, when she has no students to teach, she will turn it over to any other class that wants to use it. She's also willing to switch rooms occasionally with the school's two other second-grade teachers.
Norman Draper • 612-673-4547