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Matatula computer lab up and running, thanks to Argosy University

The students of Matatula Elementary School got a real treat yesterday after officials from Argosy University donated 15 desktop computers for their computer lab.


The donation was presented to Matatula principal Tino Roberts by Dr. Zachary Oliver, VP of Academic Affairs for Argosy University, HI; Argosy’s Campus Technology Analyst Mr. Kevin Yu; and Dr. Toafa Vaiaga’e, Director of Argosy University in American Samoa.


The computers are all refurbished units with brand new software and hard drives, worth over $7,500.


Dr. Oliver told Samoa News yesterday the donation is a “test experiment” for them, as they have never done anything like this before. “We had never seen a need for something like this and this is definitely new territory for us,” he said, adding the request for computers reached as far up the ladder as the school Chancellor himself, who was more than happy and willing to sign off on the donation.


“We like to challenge the minds of young people,” Dr. Oliver said. He explained when they visited the campus of Matatula, he was “stunned” and “impressed” with the questions they were being asked and “it has just been an amazing journey. This is our way of investing in the community and in turn, the community can use it to invest in education.”


Tino Roberts, a long time educator who is serving her first year as school principal for Matatula explained that when she first arrived on campus last year, she discovered there wasn’t a single desktop computer available for use by the students and teachers. She said there was no computer lab and she had to literally take an empty room, fill it up with 30 chairs (also donated by Argosy), and hope that computers would somehow end up in there.


“This donation from Argosy is indeed a big help for us at Matatula because now the kids can spend more time in the classroom, instead of fighting for time to use one of the 10 laptops at school,” she said, adding her next move is to request a SmartBoard for use by students in ECE, kindergarten, and levels 1-2.


“Matatula is fortunate to be receiving these computers because there is a critical need for them, in addition to instructional materials,” Roberts continued. “I am just so happy, excited and thrilled because this donation came just in the nick of time.”


Dr. Oliver referred to Governor Lolo’s Adopt a School Initiative and said Argosy has taken it upon themselves to adopt Matatula.


According to Dr. Vaiaga’e, in addition to computers and chairs, Argosy has already donated other things to Matatula, including a projector and copier, and they have also provided in-service programs like professional development presentations for the teachers there.


“Great leadership comes from the top and we commend Tino Roberts for being in tune with what the students and teachers are doing,” Dr. Vaiaga’e said. “It is evident that there is a commitment from the principal, teachers, and parents and that is why Matatula is a good school for Argosy to partner with.”


Dr. Oliver is optimistic that more donations like these will be made by Argosy in the future. “If there is a need, and if it is anything that we can help with, we will try our best to make it happen,” he said.


Argosy University has 19 campus locations all over the United States. It is a graduate school that offers degree programs in different fields of study. Recently, the school offered scholarships to the Miss American Samoa pageant contestants, as well as the territory’s Teachers of the Year.


The school opened its doors in American Samoa in August 2012 and graduated its first class of 35 last year. Another 40 students are set to graduate later this year in October with Master’s degrees. Doctorate and bachelor’s degree program students are on schedule to graduate next year.


Currently, 300 local students are enrolled with Argosy, which offers classroom sessions at the Pago Plaza and the Tradewinds Hotel. Their new location in Malaeimi (Jonathan Fanene’s 3-story complex) is set to open its doors next week.


Dr. Oliver said their main targets are ASCC graduates, as they want to offer graduate degree programs for them here, instead of having to relocate off island.


Argosy offers a “blended” program, featuring both live classroom sessions and Internet courses. Local educators, including Dr. Rosevonne Pato, Dr. Toafa Vaiaga’e, Dr. Dan Aga, and Dr. Sau Tanu, teach the classroom sessions.


Throughout the program, each student is obligated to participate in one classroom session per week for 2 hours. The rest of the course is online. “This minimizes the pressure on the students, their families and employers,” Dr. Oliver said.


Argosy offers bachelor’s degree programs in criminal justice, business administration, liberal arts, and psychology; a master’s of business administration; and doctorate and master’s degree programs in education, specializing in teaching and learning, and organizational leadership.