FOXBORO — Kindergarten classrooms at Foxboro Regional Charter School have gotten a helping hand from the Rachael Ray Show in adding some new technology.
Kindergarten teacher Heidi Solivan, a Mansfield resident, first tested out the Redcat Access device from Lightspeed Technologies last year and was blown away by how it improved the classroom experience.
The device includes microphones that teachers can wear on a lanyard around their neck and a lightweight portable speaker that can go in the back of the classroom. As a result, teachers can talk at a normal volume from anywhere in the classroom and students can clearly hear instructions and directions from wherever they are, Solivan said.
“I thought it was awesome,” she said.
After using the device for a week on a trial, Solivan sought a way to get the device into the four kindergarten classrooms permanently and started a GoFundMe page to try to raise the funds. After a year, they’d only raised about $700, far short of the $1,200 to $1,500 price tag for one device.
Then, a couple of weeks ago she got an email from a producer from the Rachael Ray Show who had seen the GoFundMe account and wanted to know more about the devices and Sullivan’s drive to get them into the classrooms. Within just a couple of weeks, producers had come to Solivan’s home in Mansfield and the school and told her she would be Skyping in with a producer for an audition for the show.
When Solivan Skyped in last week, she was surprised to be talking to Rachael Ray and her audience during a taping of the show — which aired Tuesday — rather than the producer she had expected. As Ray talked to Solivan about the devices and their importance, the Postal Service delivered four of them to Solivan, who was surprised and overwhelmed by the delivery.
“I had no idea they were going to show up,” she said.
Solivan and her colleagues at the charter school are already putting the devices to good use. On Tuesday, students held a small Thanksgiving celebration and shared what they were thankful for.
Solivan had the students use the microphone so that everyone could hear their classmates talking, even those who spoke softly.
“Everyone can hear loud and clear,” she said. “There’s so many benefits to it. It’s such an awesome, unbelieveable tool.”
And, Solivan said that without Ray and the show, they wouldn’t have been able to get the devices into the classroom.
“We would have never thought to reach out to the Rachael Ray Show in a million years,” she said.
PAIGE ALLEN can be reached at 508-236-0336, at email@example.com and on Twitter @SCNortonMa.