Three special education teachers at Van Buren School District will be able to customize lesson plans for their students after receiving a $3,000 grant for iPads from the Van Buren School District Education Foundation during its surprise Pointer Patrol on Wednesday morning.

Anna Booth, Sarah McPhate and JC Gabriel, special education teachers at VBSD Freshman Academy, will purchase 10 iPads with the grant money, Booth said. The iPads will foster communication with students and support learning, she said.

"It’ll be a great thing for us to be able to individualize instruction a lot more than we’re able to do now," Booth said.

For Booth, the iPads mean enhanced communication with her students, several of whom are nonverbal, she said.

"My room has the lowest functioning students in the district, ranging in age anywhere from 12 to 21. Educationally, they’re anywhere from newborn to fourth grade levels," Booth said. "They’re ability range is extremely wide, so when we have the iPads we’ll be able to focus on their skill sets."

Nonverbal students will be able to use an iPad as a communication device by clicking on a symbol or picture to express their needs or desires, Booth said.

"Being able to use the iPad this way will help them have a voice that they’ve never had before," Booth said.

Using iPads in McPhate’s and Gabriel’s regular classes for special needs students will support learning and help them specialize lesson plans, Booth said.

Individualized Education Through iPads, the grant awarded to Booth, McPhate and Gabriel, was one of 20 given out by the Education Foundation on Wednesday. The grants totalled $28,030.02.

Other schools receiving grants were Rena, Central, King, Tate, City Heights and Parkview elementary schools, the Learning Center, Northridge and Butterfield Trail middle schools, and Van Buren High School.