- December 26, 2011, Yolanda Simonsis
In the spirit of the season, it appears, Ron and Katherine Harper of Harper Corp. of America, Charlotte, NC, have once again gladdened the hearts and provided the opportunity for students to open their minds as well to new learning opportunities. This time the Harpers have gone well beyond the reaches of their local Gaston County, NC, where the Harpers have played a truly significant role in contributing SMART Board technology to all classrooms there in the school community.
Now an eighth grade class at St. Robert Bellarmine School in Chicago, IL, also has experienced the generosity of the Harpers. Ms Susan Peters, the lucky teacher able to have been on the receiving end of the Harpers kind philanthropy, was amazed by their donation. She is excited to use the SMART Board for the classes she teaches in mathematics, reading, and English, and explained, "An interactive SMART Board has been a dream of mine, but most technology grants are given to public schools." So when the news arrived of the Harpers' donation after hearing about her plight, Peters explained she was "one astounded teacher."
The Chicago Office Technology Group installed the SMART Board system in Ms. Peters' classroom where she explains, "The installer, by the way, was the neatest that I have ever worked with. The students can't wait to use it."
The Harpers are well known in North Carolina for their education contributions with a donation of $73,000 to Kiser Elementary in Stanley for a technology lab to learn computer skills. The classroom has been dubbed the Katherine Harper Technology Lab. A park in Stanley, NC, bears the Harper name after the couple gave $55,000 to the project.
The Harpers gave the biggest gift in Gaston County Schools history when they donated $2 million to the district in May 2010. That money came with a challenge to the school district to raise an additional $2 million to help put a SMART Board in every classroom. For their beneficence, the couple was awarded the honor of the Order of of the Long Leaf Pine, which is awarded to North Carolinians with a record of service to the state.
When I asked Ron Harper permission if I could share their Christmas gift to St. Robert Bellarmine with my blog visitors, he commented, "We would happily agree with your recognition of our giving back on your website. Hopefully it will inspire others to [give] time or dollars to their community, and especially to education."
And so may this learning experience teach us all something worth sharing during this season of giving and good will. "The more we give, the more we receive," says Ron Harper. "I am sure that God somehow has an influence on that reality."
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