The two schools appear just about as far apart as the miles that separate New York City and Sandy.
First, consider the schoolchildren who walk or are bused to New York City's Public School 63 must travel through neighborhoods that burned during racial conflicts. Their old, five-story school has an armed guard and locks on the bath-rooms.The children themselves come from backgrounds as rough as the neighborhood. Broken or single-parent homes are the rule, and their families' economic status is classified by the school's principal as "poor, working poor or public assistance."
But despite the deprivation, Principal Helen Foster sees her pupils and their families as committed to education. "We have children who are eager to learn," she said.
Then take a look at the private Waterford School, housed in a new, sparkling building on Sandy's east bench, with a commanding view of the valley and towering Wasatch Mountains. A relatively new subdivision with $100,000-plus homes is just up the street.
The school's students don't come from surrounding homes but from along the Wasatch Front. Theirs are backgrounds of advantages and, in some cases, privilege, families ranging from middle income to wealthy, families who can afford the several thousand dollars in tuition that it costs to go to Waterford for a year.
P.S. 63 and Waterford, despite obvious stark differences, are sister schools, committed to education. They are engaged in a joint project aimed at demonstrating technology's value in the class-room.
About 18 months ago, Waterford directors Dustin and Nancy Heuston, who also head the school's fund-raising arm, the Waterford Institute, approached some New York City contacts with the idea of expanding their work with computers in public schools. They were driven by the idea that computers represent a cost-efficient way to help boost low academic performance in inner city schools.
They had already seen the positive effects of integrated computer instruction on academic achievement in the Sandy school and Waterford's now defunct Provo school.
"The computer provides condensed concentrated time on task. It provides immediate, corrected, private feedback, so that the children aren't setting wrong habits in place. Every child is at work, so the teacher can walk around and tutor individually. Teachers move from being good managers, seeing to it that noses are to the grindstone, to being teachers, being able to go down on one knee and teach a child," Nancy Heuston explained.
Through New Yorkers Liz and Felix Rohatyn, the Heustons were introduced to Florence Mann of the New York City Board of Education, who in turn connected them with P.S. 63 Principal Helen Foster.
Within six months, despite union problems and problems within the bureaucratic maze of New York City's education system, the Waterford Institute transformed P.S. 63 from a school with a few computers to one with three computer labs and a total of 96 computers.
"If the project had been laid and designed, it would have taken five years. It just fell into place," Heuston said.
Dustin Heuston, through the Waterford Institute, raised nearly $1 million for the labs with private donations and foundation grants.
The labs are no different from Waterford's own."You walk into one of those labs, and it's like walking into Waterford," Nancy Heuston said.
But Waterford did more than provide hardware. It taught personnel. A team of Waterford teachers has traveled to New York several times to train the P.S. 63 teachers.
Recently, Foster and Assistant Principal Karen Abdul-Mateen further cemented the ties between the two schools by visiting Sandy's Waterford.
Foster assessed her school's new computer instruction as bringing "definite improvements. The school was ripe. The children don't like to miss their computer."
But both Foster and Heuston stressed that it's too early to make any valid statistical comparisons of tests scores pre- and post-computer. They expect, however, to see substantive gains in reading and math scores by the end of the school year.
At P.S. 63, every one of the school's 654 pupils, including those in special education and bilingual programs, works daily on the computer from 30 to 45 minutes.
"The computer focuses our children on learning and success, and they get it very early in the game. They can do things on computer and get immediate feedback. Since the computer, our teachers are looking at things differently. They're saying, `Oh, so and so, I didn't know he could do that,' " Foster related.
The positive results with P.S. 63 prompted Waterford to "adopt" another New York school - P.S. 1 in Chinatown, where 70 percent of the children are Chinese immigrants - this year. A third New York school will soon join the Waterford group.
Foster, for one, believes this beginning has great potential for similar joint venture elsewhere.