The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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January 14, 2014

iPad donation makes 'Happy Schools'

CLINTON — When it comes to educating Clinton kids, a local pizza chain has demonstrated that there’s an app for that.

During Monday’s Clinton School Board meeting, the Happy Joe’s Kids Foundation, started by owners Larry Whitty and Kristel Ersan, explained their campaign for “improving the lives of children with special needs.” Year One of the foundation ended when Whitty handed four iPads over to special-education teachers Alison Slowey and Bridget Heer.

Co-founder Joe Whitty went into the classroom to see the work Slowey and Heer have done with the special-needs students. According to Larry Whitty, Joe was struck by the ways teachers like Slowey and Heer use the devices to enhance learning.

“These young kids, who cannot speak, use the iPads to touch and help do the speaking for them,” Larry Whitty said. “He was just so enamored and he thought, ‘I want to do that for them.’ “

The teachers said this will give their speech pathologist more tools for helpful educational games.

Last year, Happy Joe’s celebrated its 40th anniversary, which culminated in founding its Kids Foundation.

“There will be four kids who have four iPads now,” Larry Whitty said.

The Clinton School District is also the first to receive any grant from the Kids Foundation.

Jim McGraw, CCSD board president and owner of Clinton’s Happy Joe’s, said the district was elated to be receiving the gifts, which cost roughly $500 apiece.

“We’re very pleased that the foundation has made that kind of donation,” he added. “It’ll be a big help for our students and that’s the bottom line, that it’s good for kids.”

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