Giant Steps CT Technological Advancement

Organization Information:

Organization Name:
Giant Steps CT School
City & State:
Organization Website:
Organization's Mission Statement

Giant Steps CT is a Connecticut State Approved Private School for students diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, and/or other neurological impairments ages 3-21 years. We provide our students with a uniquely comprehensive program to meet their educational and therapeutic needs, while supporting meaningful inclusion and participation in their home school district and community. Inherent in the philosophy is a team-centered approach that incorporates feedback from various disciplines to develop and provide strategies and support.

Submission Information

Impact Essay

In recent years, our organization commenced the Giant Steps School Technological Advancement Initiative in order to facilitate the optimization and enhancement of our mission delivery via new technologies. We began by acquiring donated computers, printers, and peripherals and in the process we became a part of the Microsoft Donation Program through the TechSoup organization. This partnership in itself was quite a lifeline for us as it provided us with discounted Microsoft software products that we would otherwise not have been able to obtain and utilize.

Microsoft software donations have enhanced the quality and impact of our services and programs on a number of fronts while also opening up doors to new services and programs. Increased access in all of our classrooms and offices to the internet, Microsoft Office Suites, and updated Windows XP operating systems has opened and continues to open many doors for our staff and students along with their families. Children with disabilities require special expert professional services and the abovementioned software packages enabled the educational and therapeutic services we provide to this population of students to be of a higher quality while taking less preparation time. Every single educational program at our school is child-specific. Painstaking time, effort, and critical thinking go into the creation and modification of educational materials and individual student therapy sessions. There are no “one size fits all” practices for the educational and therapeutic materials used with these students. Everything needs to be created and modified either in advance or on the fly. Microsoft software products make the integration of current information and practices through technology available to our staff and students.

There are countless ways and countless new ways in which this technology is utilized on a daily basis to enhance our services and programs along with their impact. Every single computer and application at the school is considered an assistive technology device with accessibility applications. For all students here, these computers are a form of communication and especially for those students who rely heavily on augmentative communication devices (AAC). For many students, Microsoft products assist in providing them with a physical and/or virtual voice that they would otherwise not have whether on a computer or a specialized AAC device. This technology allows teachers, therapists, and family members to access a nonverbal or semi-verbal student’s thoughts, feelings, and capabilities that may otherwise be difficult if not impossible to ascertain. Access to programs such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint allow students to work on typing, writing, reading, and math while being able to engage in and learn from social stories, visual scenes, and much more to aid in their understanding of the content. These programs do not only serve educational functions but they are also critical in delivering therapeutic services related to occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, play and social communication therapy, music therapy, and activities of daily living therapy.

One major variable in the equation that helps professionals to access these special children is motivation. What, by and large, motivates these students? Access to a world of changing information technology that is colorful, fun, dynamic, and interactive through expanded internet access and new software capabilities greatly motivates these students, staff, and their families. Students are able to utilize video and pictures like never before in order to learn and communicate while enjoying themselves all the while. Digital media communications involving pictures and videos are critical in that they greatly help to illustrate educational/therapeutic objectives to students while keeping them interested. Touchscreens interfacing with these various forms of media and software through Microsoft operating systems allow students who do not have the tactile acuity to use a mouse or keyboard, access to a world of opportunity and learning.

Students have gained a huge amount of access to educational software and content through Microsoft Small Business Server. Educational software is highly motivating and interactive while simultaneously applying years of research to students’ learning. The donations allow more students to access more software efficiently and effectively throughout the building. Microsoft Encarta is also a great educational tool that staff and students utilize to aid in the educational process. As many educational items are child-specific, it is necessary to have educational materials be accessible and available from anywhere and everywhere in the building. MS SBS has done just that. Materials can be created by one staff member on one side of the building and be instantly accessed by the student on the other side of the building with no downtime thanks to our secure server run network environment. Those same materials can also be templated and made available to other students after making any necessary modifications saving valuable time. This server environment also allows us to archive educational content for later use and modification including pictures, videos, and content created by using educational materials creation programs as well as materials created and archived with Microsoft software.

Microsoft donations have also increased the quality of our administrative procedures while facilitating new and more efficient processes. Email and file databases have greatly aided our administration as well as our fundraising efforts. Access to Microsoft software has made training and development for our staff much more effective and efficient while increasing the quality and efficiency of communications between our students’ respective team members. With these advances we are able to deliver more technologically advanced programs for our students.

In conclusion, Giant Steps School has seen vast improvements in its technology infrastructure over the past few years and Microsoft discounted software has been an important player in our technological advancement. These donations have greatly aided our students, their families, communities, and our staff on a number of levels. We hope this brief essay was able to touch upon a small number of these successes and advancements.

Submission Category
Optimize Mission Delivery
Supporting Work Files