From the Canyon Edge -- :-Dustin

Monday, March 20, 2017

Ubuntu and The Classroom Connection



Over ten years ago, my Ubuntu journey began.

On October 7th, 2006, I drove with my wife, Kimberly Kirkland, to help setup her new classroom, in Elgin, Texas.  This was her very first job as a teacher -- 4th grade, starting about a month into the school year as the school added a classroom to their crowded schedule at the very last minute.

After hanging a few posters on the wall, I found 4 old, broken iMac G3's, discarded in the closet.  With a couple of hours on my hands, I pulled each one apart and put together two functional computers.  But with merely 128MB of RAM, rotary hard disks, and a 32-bit PowerPC processor, MacOS 9 wasn't even remotely functional.

Now, I've been around Linux since 1997, but always Red Hat Linux.  In fact, I had spent most of the previous year (2005) staffed by IBM on site at Red Hat in Westford, MA, working on IBM POWER machines.

I had recently heard of this thing called Edubuntu -- a Linux distribution with games and tools and utilities specifically tailored for the classroom -- which sounded perfect for Kim's needs!

After a bit of fiddling with xorg.conf, I eventually got Ubuntu running on the machine.

In fact, it was shortly after that, when I first setup my Launchpad account (2006-10-11) and posted my first comment, with patch, and workaround instructions to Bug #22976 on 2006-12-14:


About a year later, I applied for a job with Canonical and started working on the Ubuntu Server team in February of 2008.  It's been a wonderful decade, helping bring Ubuntu, Linux, free, and open source software to the world.  And in a way, it sort of all started for me in my wife's first classroom.

But there's another story in here, a much more important story, actually.  And it's not my story, it's my wife's. It's Kimberly's story, as a brand new public school teacher...

You see, she was a 20-something year old, recently out of college and with her very first job in the public school system.  She wouldn't even see her first paycheck for another 6 weeks.  And she was setting up her classroom with whatever hand-me-downs, donations, or yard sale items she could find.  And I'm not talking about the broken computers.  I'm talking about the very basics.  Pens, pencils, paper, books, wall hangings -- the school supplies that most of us take for granted entirely.

Some schools and school districts are adequately funded, and can provide for their students, teachers, and classrooms.  Many parents are able to send their kids to school with the supplies requested on their lists -- glue, scissors, folders, bags, whatever.

But so, so, so many are not.  Schools that don't provide supplies.  And parents that can't afford it.  Thousands of kids in every school district in the world empty handed.

Do you know who makes up the slack?

Teachers.

Yes, our dearly beloved, underpaid, overworked, underappreciated, teachers.  They bring the extra pencils, tissues, staplers, and everything else in between, that their kids need.  And it's everywhere, all across the country, our teachers pick up that slack.  And I know this because it's not just my wife, not just Texas.  My mom and dad are both school teachers in Louisiana.  We know teachers all over the world where this is the case.  Teachers spend hundreds -- sometimes thousands -- of their own hard earned dollars to help their students in need and make their classrooms more suitable for learning.

I'm super proud to say that my wife Kim has spent the last year studying and researching education-focused, local and national charities, learning how they work and who they help.

Understanding the landscape, Kim has co-founded a non-profit organization based here in Austin, Texas -- Classroom Connection -- to collect funds to help distribute school supplies to teachers for their students in need.


After a successful GoFundMe campaignClassroom Connection is now fully operational.  You can contribute in any of three ways:

Our kids are our future.  And their success starts with a rich education experience.  We can always do a little more to secure that future.  Which brings us back to Ubuntu, the philosophy:
"I am who I am, because of who we all are."
Thanks,
:-Dustin

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