Kloiber Foundation
America is a melting pot of many different cultures, and Lexington, KY is no exception. Many of the schools in Lexington are home to students from all over the world.
At Lansdowne Elementary, for example, there are over 14 different languages spoken. While this makes for a rich, multicultural environment, it is often a challenge to communicate. No challenge is too great, however, for the educator team at Lansdowne. ESL teacher Emily Cripps had an innovative idea to bring the families together, despite them speaking different native languages. She was inspired by a bourbon tour she attended, which had headsets for everyone. These allowed each guest to be able to hear the tour guide easily and clearly, no matter how far away they were. This gave Emily an idea – could a similar technology help Lansdowne with their Parent Nights, which were growing increasingly chaotic with the many necessary translators? She did her research, and found sets of RF transmitters and headsets that she was sure would benefit both the students and their families. They came with a hefty price tag, however; where would they find funding for the technology?
Students using RF headsets at Lansdowne Elementary

Luckily, earlier that year Kloiber Foundation had chosen Lansdowne Elementary to receive a substantial grant. There was still discussion about how it would best be put to use, and Emily brought her idea to the administration: how could the students at Lansdowne benefit from RF receivers that translators could utilize? Each person could tune their receiver to the proper channel for their language, and instead of having clusters of people around each translator, families could instead mingle with each other and sit wherever they liked. This would not only help with the chaos of having up to 7 people talking at once during a presentation, but also would hopefully bring more of a sense of community and togetherness to the school. The administration decided it was a worthy goal, and a plan was put into motion.

“How could the students at Lansdowne benefit from RF receivers that translators could utilize? ”

In the 2 years since obtaining the headsets, Lansdowne has dramatically changed the way it can communicate with its students and families. Family Nights have gotten much more manageable, and people have begun to intermingle with different cultures instead of staying within their language groups. Lansdowne staff has also begun a program where parents can come every Tuesday and learn English, often times employing the same curriculum as their students are learning. Another benefit to the headsets is that students who have gotten district approval for tests to be read to them aloud can stay in the classroom with their friends during testing, instead of going to an alternate location. The RF headsets have been such a success at Lansdowne Elementary that the district has purchased a set that can be moved to any school who needs it.

A lack of communication is often at the root of disagreements, and the RF headsets are helping to bridge that gap. Lansdowne Elementary has big hopes that the headsets will not only continue to serve its students and families well for years to come, but will also be instrumental in creating a community where everyone can feel heard, understood, and welcomed.