Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Berkeley Prep student lavishes laptops on Title I school

Jack Koch led a project to buy 16 laptops for Dickenson Elementary School, across from Berkeley Prep. He is the founder of Bringing Youth Technology Everywhere, or BYTE.

Berkeley Preparatory School

Jack Koch led a project to buy 16 laptops for Dickenson Elementary School, across from Berkeley Prep. He is the founder of Bringing Youth Technology Everywhere, or BYTE.

TOWN & COUNTRY — Berkeley Preparatory School student Jack Koch thinks every child deserves to have access to technology. So when he discovered that Dickenson Elementary School, the Title 1 school across the street from Berkeley, needed computers, he vowed to raise money to rectify the situation.

The 17-year-old recently made good on his promise when he delivered 16 laptops to the low-income school.

Jack is no stranger to philanthropy. Before moving to Tampa with his family last summer from Boca Raton, he founded the nonprofit BYTE, short for Bringing Youth Technology Everywhere. Knowing the impact technology has had on his own education, so he wants to ensure that others have the same opportunities, regardless of their financial situation.

His work with BYTE got off to a good start in Boca Raton, earning him the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award, but he was eager to expand the reach of the group.

Jack found the support system he needed when he enrolled as a junior last fall at Berkeley, whose educational philosophy is grounded in community service. The school required students to log community service hours well before it became a national trend.

Jack also came to Berkeley at a time when the school was revitalizing its approach to community outreach. Kim Lawless came on board in the newly created position of director of community engagement and service learning. Her job would be to work closely with students to turn their passions into potential service opportunities.

Lawless asked Jack to serve as a Spanish language translator for parent-teacher conferences at Dickenson Elementary. The teen knew that Dickenson could benefit from his technological expertise.

Jack was also brainstorming ideas for an AP calculus project in which his teacher, Thom Morris, challenged students to use their knowledge to make a difference in someone's life.

All of the pieces were falling into place. The student knew that by working with Dickenson, he would be fulfilling the requirements of Morris' project, furthering the work of BYTE, and, more important, making a difference in the lives of others.

"Jack's desire to help others is genuine," Lawless said. "He truly listens to find out what people need, which is so important."

He did listen. He learned that Dickenson didn't just need computers, but laptops that could be housed on rolling carts so that multiple students could use them throughout the day. He also learned that to be fully functional, the laptops would need to be loaded with the proper software. When Jack said he could make all of that happen, Dickenson's vice principal, Ryan Moody, admits he was skeptical.

By their third strategy session, that skepticism vanished. Moody knew that this was a young man who could get the job done.

Working closely with Lawless, Jack devised a plan to challenge family and friends to contribute to the cause by offering to match donations using his personal money. The plan worked. Jack raised the $5,200 needed to put his goal into action.

Students and faculty at Dickenson are grateful.

"Jack is the most amazing young man I have ever met," Moody said. "He is just a junior in high school, and here he is already making a difference in the world."

His work is far from finished. With Berkeley on his side, he is ready for his next fundraising initiative.

"The school's support has made so much difference," Jack noted.

As Jeremy Canody, Berkeley's director of communications, pointed out, the feeling is mutual.

"Jack is a prime example of what we strive to be," he said.

Karen Ring can be reached at

Berkeley Prep student lavishes laptops on Title I school 06/19/14 [Last modified: Thursday, June 19, 2014 9:57am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Tampa poll rates streets, flooding, police-community relations and transportation as top public priorities


    A city of Tampa online survey of the public's priorities for the next 18 months rated improving streets and easing flooding as the top priority of nearly 89 percent of respondents.

    Survey results
  2. Video shows women violently beating another in apparent Pasco road rage incident


    NEW PORT RICHEY — Two women are accused of dragging another woman out of her car window and beating her unconscious at a Pasco County intersection in an apparent road rage incident, according to the Sheriff's Office.

    Shelley Lyn Gemberling, 49, and Alicia Nikole Scarduzio, 20, are accused of pulling another driver out of her car and beating her in a Pasco County intersection. (Pasco Sheriff's Office)
  3. Top 5 at noon: Out of sight, out of mind: a Times investigation; PolitiFact: what's at stake in the tax debate? and more


    Here are the latest headlines and updates on

    Aaron Richardson Jr. talks to voices in his head at his father's bail bond business in St. Petersburg. Richardson has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. [JOHN PENDYGRAFT   |   TIMES]
  4. It's not a game, but the names are all the same in this football family


    TAMPA — A coach yells across the field into a scrum of blue-and-white clad football bodies at Jefferson High: "Kim Mitchell! Kim Mitchell, come here!"

    These twins are not only identical, but they have almost identical names. Kim Mitchell III, left, and Kim Mitchell IV are  talented football players at Jefferson High with Division I-A college offers. Kim  III wears No. 22 and plays cornerback while Kim IV wears No. 11 and plays safety. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
  5. Did Hurricane Irma speed the end of Florida orange juice?


    Hurricane Irma plundered Florida's orange belt, leaving a trail of uprooted trees, downed fruit and flooded groves worse than anything growers say they have seen in more than 20 years.

    A large number of oranges lie on the ground at the Story Grove orange grove in the wake of Hurricane Irma on Sept. 13, 2017, in Lake Wales. [Photo by Brian Blanco | Getty Images]