JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
MARBLE FALLS — The Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes received some news that reconfirmed the Marble Falls and Burnet units are positively impacting their students in the way staff and board members hoped when the facilities were built.
Weeks after receiving a grant from the KDK-Harman Foundation to purchase 20 computers for each unit, hire a summer computer teacher for both sites, and install science, technology, engineering, and math software, the foundation commissioned Harvard University to create a computer survey for the students to get feedback.
The results of the survey made Boys & Girls Club of the Highland Lakes executive director Bill Drake grin from ear to ear.
The survey revealed Highland Lakes students are more interested in science and math after using the software throughout the summer.
Survey results show:
• 73.9 percent of the Highland Lakes students said they felt more curious about science compared to 71.2 percent in the Austin area;
• 73.9 percent of the Highland Lakes students said they felt more curious about technology compared to 76.5 percent in the Austin area;
• 65.2 percent of the Highland Lakes students said they felt more curious about engineering compared to 72.2 percent in the Austin area;
• and 60.9 percent of the Highland Lakes students said they felt more curious about math compared to 65.1 percent in the Austin area.
And statistics predict a deficit of workers in those areas when these children are ready to look for jobs.
“Wow,” Drake said. “Look at the numbers. We kept neck and neck with all the schools in the Austin area.”
He noted the Highland Lakes students were more comfortable in their relationships with peers and adults thanks to their computer summer work. And that comfort level also is important when it comes to seeking a job as an adult, he added.
“Those are life skills you develop,” he said. “Those are high school leaders, kids who stay in after-school activities.”
The program also included work in robotics, chemistry, and aviation.
The executive director credits the gains to summer teachers Dominique Wallace in Burnet and Shayna Clark in Marble Falls.
“It was a great summer exercise,” he said.
Drake noted the foundation’s “mission is to break the cycle of poverty through education while promoting a culture of giving excellence” and believes education is one of the most important tools to accomplishing that mission. So 60 Burnet-area students and 80 Marble Falls-area kids were able to use those computers throughout the summer.
“There’s a perception that we’re a daycare or a recreation center,” Drake said. “We’re so much more than that. This (survey) really reinforces there’s a lot of good things we do to help kids succeed academically. We’re deeply, deeply appreciative of the KDK Foundation and the community (in helping) reduce poverty in a unique way. What an incredible way of stopping poverty. Here’s an opportunity you could really start young and keep interest going.”