Lexi Newmar already has two piggy banks – both of them filled all the way up.


Now the J.D. Lever Elementary School fifth-grader has received a third piggy bank, courtesy of Curtis Loftis, the South Carolina state treasurer, during his visit to the school on Monday.


He spoke with about 40 kids in grades K-5 about financial literacy, encouraging the children to save money, whenever they can, for things they might need in the future.


Each of them got a gift bag, including, of course, a piggy bank. But Loftis had an even bigger gift – a presentation of 10 iPads for the entire school. He would do the same thing at Schofield Middle School soon afterward.


The J.D. Lever principal, Cathy Ellis, said the donation will keep the school moving in the right direction in the area of technology. The PTO has been working on a variety of fundraising projects, Ellis said, “so we can move more technology in our classrooms.”


Sarah Walton, a second-grade teacher, already has a classroom iPad, thanks to a grant from the school advocacy organization, Public Education Partners. She's delighted that other teachers can rotate the new iPads throughout the school.


“It's a wonderful opportunity,” Walton said. “There are so many apps available on iPads, which can provide a teaching tool for teachers and students. My second-graders are very excited. They love having the chance to put their hands on an iPad and play apps on it.”


S.C. Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, an occasional visitor to the school, calls digital education the future. Two-year-olds and even his one-year-old granddaughter can get on the iPad productively.


“This is a small step in the right direction,” Taylor said. “Until our school system in South Carolina can digitize to where kids can learn at their ability level, we won't make significant progress in the transition from the 20th to the 21st century. We need to be supportive.”


Financial literacy is also important, Loftis reiterated. He asked the children if they get $50 a week in allowance, and even the youngest kids knew he was teasing. He also talked about the difference of a “want” versus a “need,” and a fifth-grader promptly explained to his classmates.


As for her new piggy bank, Lexi has every intention of filling it, too.


“My mom tells me I have to save my money to go to college,” Lexi said.


Senior writer Rob Novit is the Aiken Standard's education reporter and has been with the newspaper since September 2001. He is a native of Walterboro and majored in journalism at the University of Georgia.