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Lumberton Schools to Build Outdoor Pavilion for Chromebooks

Technology coordinator Tom Wilkinson won 30 Chromebooks and a mobile cart for Lumberton Township School District in New Jersey by proposing to build an outdoor pavilion that could be a learning and event space.

(TNS) — The pandemic forced the Lumberton School District to adapt to virtual learning for the 2020-21 school year.

The district's technology coordinator, Tom Wilkinson, is now implementing the lessons he learned — and the mobile laptop cart he won — to improve students' experiences in and out of the classroom.

In May, Wilkinson and his team participated in a video competition hosted by the classroom technology provider Trafera. The contest prompted students and educators across the country to envision an innovative outdoor space in which students could use a new set of 30 Chromebooks and a mobile cart to enhance their learning experience.

Wilkinson's winning pitch was for an outdoor pavilion — like the kinds seen at public parks and swimming clubs — that could be used for more than just a classroom.

Now, he and the district will need to figure out how to get a pavilion built.

"I'm heavily involved in swimming, and I looked at the summer swimming model," said Wilkinson, who is also the father of the three children in the district. "All of these swim clubs have pavilions, (they host) outdoor events; weather doesn't matter. I was like 'we can do that here too.'"

Wilkinson suggested the space could also provide student groups, community organizations, sports teams, the Parent Teacher Association and the Board of Education a place to safely meet outside. He also said that the pavilion could function as a temporary disaster shelter if need be.

"I consider myself the atypical tech person," Wilkinson said. "I'm not the guy in the server room doing the back-end stuff. I like to be more pushing out new initiatives, pushing the envelopes, just really throwing stuff out there."

Joe Langowski, superintendent of Lumberton Schools, called Wilkinson a "visionary" technology coordinator and said that the district is pursuing an outdoor use grant to make Wilkinson's plan a reality. If the district does not get the grant, it would explore the use of local funds instead, said Langowski.

"We don't know the results yet. Regardless, the Board of Education seems to be really behind us," Wilkinson said. "We're hoping for funding, but even if that funding falls through, this looks like something we're going to do for the district."

©2021 Burlington County Times, Willingboro, N.J. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.