High tech tools help Soo Hill students

Haley Gustafson | Daily Press Soo Hill Elementary first grade teacher Mary Zuidema, left, holds the school’s new TOPCAT FM system microphone as Soo Hill first grader Quinlee Thomas leads the classroom through a math problem Wednesday afternoon. The school recently purchased the sound systems to help students hear better while in the classroom.

SOO HILL — Soo Hill Elementary School recently purchased new technology that is benefiting both students and teachers.

With the help of the school’s Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) fundraising efforts, the school was able to purchase nine TOPCAT FM systems and one REDCAT portable FM speaker for their classrooms.

When using the systems, teachers wear a wireless microphone around their necks. The microphones are hooked up to a speaker in the classroom’s ceiling.

“Their voice carries without teachers having to strain their voice,” said Soo Hill Principal Paulette Wickham.

In addition to being able to hear and speak more clearly, Wickham said the systems also help with student attention. The FM systems allow everyone to hear as if they were sitting in the front row of the classroom, added Wickham.

“It’s a plus for both students and teachers,” said Wickham.

The elementary students are also given the chance to use the microphones during class activities, noted Wickham, adding students get excited whenever they get to use the new technology.

All of the classrooms from begindergarten through third grade are equipped with TOPCAT, explained Wickham. The art and music room, along with the special education classroom, do not have the system in the ceiling. In these rooms, a portable REDCAT speaker is used and teachers are able to use a microphone anytime they feel it’s needed.

According to Wickham, without the help of the PTO, the new addition of technology would not have been possible.

“We’re very blessed our PTO is so good to us and our school community,” said Wickham.

First grade teacher Mary Zuidema said the systems have been a huge asset to herself and her students. Having the students to be able to speak clearly and at a reasonable volume so everyone can hear while they lead the class during a reading or math session, has made teaching easier and class more fun, noted Zuidema.