Published in the December 21, 2017 edition

By MICHAEL GEOFFRION SCANNELL

NORTH READING — The North Reading School Committee accepted a donation of computer equipment valued at just over $6,638 from North Reading’s Amazon Robotics at Monday night’s meeting.

The technology gift took the form of 16 different desktop computers including the monitor, keyboard and mouse as well as the computer itself.

The gift was accepted and acknowledged at Monday’s meeting, but the computer equipment was actually delivered and installed on Monday, Dec. 4. These units are being used at North Reading Middle School’s new sixth grade computer lab.

Amazon Robotics has a long history of working with local schools on matters concerning the teaching of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics). Over a year ago, school officials including Superintendent Jon Bernard, Assistant Superintendent Dr. Patrick Daly and Digital Learning Director Dr. Dan Downs met with Amazon Robotics Senior Products Manager Rebecca Passo-Mikulski, and began having conversations about ways that Amazon Robotics could be more involved in STEM education in the school system

“Whenever we make technology donations, it’s to some sort of STEM program,” said Passo-Mikulski. “In this case, we had this excess equipment and it was just fortuitous. When this opportunity to donate technology came across my desk, the first thing that I thought of was to make that donation right here in our own backyard.”

Passo-Mikulski reached out to the School Department, which welcomed the opportunity and helped coordinate the installation. Amazon Robotics also gave the school system the opportunity to take advantage of some of their engineers, who were willing to use some of their own time to provide on-site tech support. Passo-Mikulski said although these are retired computers, they still meet today’s standards for computers.

NRMS staff worked diligently to prepare the computer lab. Passo-Mikulski said Amazon Robotics’ volunteers installed the equipment in less than an hour. The volunteers were part of Amazon Robotics’ IT Department whose job it is to install computers at their facility here in North Reading.

Passo-Mikulski, who is also a North Reading resident with three children in the school system, said in closing: “I’m grateful because my sixth grader will be one of the recipients and be an end user. It was a win-win both personally and professionally, and feels good.”