LAPTOPS FOR LEARNING

Longtime friends make special deliveries

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Mya Williams rubbed the sleep from her eyes.

She walked down the wooden steps and stood quietly by her mom’s side, curious as to why her dream-filled, birthday nap had been interrupted.

But a bright smile quickly replaced the bewilderment on the second-grader’s face when she received a new laptop and head phones from Louis Threatt, founder of U R Restored Ministries in Durham.

“I think that made her day,” said mom, Renita.

The Williams’ residence was just the first of three stops for Threatt and longtime friend Mark Colebrook, a teacher/coach at Brogden Middle School. Both Air Force veterans, they developed a strong bond during their days at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

Colebrook and Threatt also delivered laptops to a pair of Brogden Middle eighth-graders — Jamila Ortiz and Britney Lopez. Each said they intended to study nursing or attend veterinarian school upon graduation.

And when each recipient opened their box, they read the scripture “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). Threatt encouraged each to work hard in the classroom and let nothing derail their aspirations.

“To hear they had a vision … dream and goals, I feel that no child should be hindered from obtaining those goals and dreams,” Threatt said. “We, as a people, should do everything possible to make that happen. Being able to help was life-giving and just seeing those smiles.

“Also, I saw there was more than one child in the home, which tells me it not only helps one, but helps the whole family at the same time.”

Colebrook shared his concerns when he spoke with Threatt.

The articulate educator said all kids should have an equal chance to receive an education, but when you examine the equity side of the equation, there are areas lacking — particularly the necessary tools to help children succeed in the classroom.

There are nearly 19,000 students in Wayne County and just 8,000 Chromebrooks available for distribution since remote learning began Aug. 17.

According to Wayne County Public Schools, a total of 7,000 students opted for the semester-long virtual academy. A majority of those children have either iPads, laptops or desktop computers to complete their assignments.

The remainder of the electronic devices will be distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.

Because of supply and demand statewide, additional Chromebrooks won’t be available to county students until October. By then, WCPS may be in Plan “B,” depending on COVID-19 numbers and social-distancing requirements.

“It’s very sad, especially in a country that has more than enough where you can distribute different funds to different things and not really help out children,” Threatt said. “There are a lot of good causes out there. We really have to invest in our children. They might live in an area where they can’t afford certain things, but that doesn’t mean they can’t have them.”

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