SAVOY -- Might as well shoot for the stars.
That's what Emma L. Miller Elementary School teacher Deborah Nowicki thought when state Education Secretary Matthew H. Malone visited in early October, asking if the state's smallest elementary school "needed anything."
Nowicki's request? Two iPads.
At the start of the year, the school, which has an enrollment of 41 students, set the goal of acquiring the touchpad devices before summer.
In a surprise return visit on Monday, Malone discreetly knocked on Nowicki's door, two iPads in his hands.
"I thought ‘I'm never going to hear from this man again,' " Nowicki said. "I was shocked."
The initial visit came when Malone was in the Berkshires with Gov. Deval Patrick to commemorate the grand opening of Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts' new $30 million science center in North Adams.
"He heard about our small, hilltown school and wanted to come see it," said School Committee member Greta Facchetti. "That's where it all started."
Malone handed out pencils to students, toured the building with Northern Berkshire School Union Superintendent Jonathan Lev and then left, Nowicki's request hanging in the air.
School administrators knew of the impending visit Monday, but kept it secret to surprise teachers.
"My mouth must have dropped to my knees," Nowicki said. "I thought, ‘You've got to be kidding me; he came through.' "
Nowicki, who teaches special education students as well, said the devices can be "amazing educational tools."
"Kids all learn in different ways," she said. "This is just another tool in our toolbox."
Some students who ordinarily struggle to stay focused immediately became taken with the iPad, Nowicki said.
Appropriately enough, Nowicki was giving a group of fourth grade students an economics lesson when Malone walked in.
"Here I am telling the students the state owns three quarters of (the land in Savoy) and we can only collect taxes on the final quarter, and here he comes with a gift from the state," Nowicki said.
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