Archive for Thursday, October 25, 2007

Prize patrol surprises teachers with grant funds

October 25, 2007

Several teachers throughout the district got a special surprise last week when a prize patrol showed up at their classrooms and presented them with a giant check for the annual Educate the Pride Grants.

Every year the Lansing Education Foundation Fund presents money to teachers to help fund special projects in the classrooms when other funding is limited or non-existent. This year, the foundation gave out $6,824 in individual teacher grants and an additional $2,980 in entire building project grants.

Mary Alice Schroeger, the foundation's director, said the grants are ways for the foundation to support all of the work teachers do throughout the year, as well as recognizing their efforts to constantly improve the education of children.

"Teaching is a very difficult and complex profession," said Schroeger, who is a foreign language teacher herself at the high school. "I don't know that the public truly understands how difficult it is."

When the foundation started in 2004, Schroeger said the goal was to raise money from the community that would be returned to schools through various ways and directly affect all the students of the Lansing district.

"It's really the community extending their hands forward and saying thank you and that we appreciate everything you're doing," she said.

There were 12 projects that received grants this year such as Cookie Bookie Club, Laptop to Assist Students, Digital Imagery, The Reading Pen and Earthworks.

At the middle school, sixth-grade teacher Jennifer Kolb started the project Show Your Work. She said she wanted to find a way to bring hands-on learning to the students.

With her grant of $385, Kolb plans to purchase "hands-on manipulatives" that will go along with her science unit on the concepts of work and energy. She said when it came to abstract ideas it becomes important that students learn by physically seeing the actual application. Items such as pulleys and axles will supplement her regular lectures.

"Basically its going to give students a very deep understanding of the concept of work and allow them to apply the principals they're learning and transfer those from the classroom situation to real life," she said.

When deciding which projects to fund, Schroeger said the foundation looks for ideas, like Kolb's, that will complement state and district standards while assisting teachers in their individual classrooms. The foundation also likes projects that are innovative, give back to the community, are technology based and promote collaboration among teachers.

This is what elementary school reading specialists Bette Bell and Denise Shelley are doing with their Reach Your Way to the T-Bones program. The two are working together to improve reading skills and offering a little incentive along the way.

Students have begun to keep track of the amount of time they spend reading, and those who reach the 2,000-minute mark will receive a free ticket for them and an adult to a Kansas City T-Bones baseball game in May.

Bell said the program was meant to motivate students to want to read more and, along the way, she said she hopes the students discover an enjoyment in reading. Approximately 100 students are participating in the project, and Bell said she's definitely noticed more excitement when the tickets are mentioned.

Because the tickets are donated by the T-Bones through its program, Read Your Way to Sizzle, the two teachers will use the $300 they received from the grant to make the family night event extra special with either t-shirts or refreshments.

Shelley said she thought the program was a great opportunity to give students a chance to attend an event, like a big baseball game, that they may not have gotten to do before. So far, she said students are showing a lot of enthusiasm and that almost every student won't have a problem completing their hours by March when the forms are due.

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