A+ for Education awards 2020 mini-grants

A+ for Education awards 2020 mini-grants
Posted on 11/13/2020
November 13, 2020 - This year, the A+ for Education committee awarded $25,732.21 in mini-grants to teachers at Eugene Field School, Hawthorne Elementary School, McMillan Early Learning Center, Mexico High School, and St. Brendan School.

The committee encouraged teachers to submit grants that would pioneer new approaches to enhance the classroom curriculum. The grants were awarded up to $3,000.

The program received 27 grant applications, which were rated independently by three anonymous judges. School and teacher names are removed from grant applications before they are judged.

A+ grant funding is entirely local and is received from area individuals, businesses, local foundations, and the United Way. This program is unique to Mexico and was started in 1991 by a group of area persons seeking to support our schools and our students.

Thank you to the A+ for Education Grant Committee for their generous efforts for our local teachers!

The following grants are recommended for funding:

Resources for Making & Utilizing Mathematics Instructional Videos
$ 515.00 Mexico High School: John Wilbers, Math
There is a need for mathematical instructional videos because students often need to review or re-learn a topic.  The teachers have responded by making some instructional videos, however sometimes the video may lack audio quality because of the use of generic microphones built into a document projector and the teacher is restricted to writing at their desk because they have to stay close to the built-in microphone.  With the use of the wireless lavalier mic’s, webcams and small portable speakers the teachers will be allowed to teach from the smart board or move around the room while teach, thus providing a live lesson for the student which can be consistently and clearly heard.

PATHS Social Emotional Learning Early Childhood
$ 996.90 McMillan Early Learning Center: Angelique Moeller, Special Education
PATHS packages are used in preschool classrooms to promote alternative thinking strategies. It is an evidenced based program that promotes peaceful conflict resolution, emotion regulation, empathy, and responsible decision making.  The program is designed to work with Pre-K – 6th grade with programs tailor made for Pre-K – Kindergarten which include literature, puppets and role playing to help facilitate lessons.

Active Calming Centers -3
$ 1640.00 McMillan Early Learning Center: Dr. Anne Billington, Principal
Promoting physical and mental fitness is extremely important and a disorganized brain is always disengaged in learning.  The active calming center guides children through nine physical and mental tasks that help organize the inner states of their brains. The stations can be used for ages 3-6.

Active Calming Center -2
$ 943.00 Eugene Field: Samantha Porter, Counselor All behavior is a form of communication. Children need specific, actionable steps to begin to calm themselves down. The Active Calming Center is a multi-step tool that helps children channel big emotions and physical impulses in order to better manage their upset so they can return to an optimal learning state.

Active Calming Center -1
$ 1,312.00 St. Brendan School: Theresa Farnell, 2nd Grade
In order to learn, students’ brains must be engaged in the learning process.  When they feel disorganized or stressed, their brains cannot engage.  The grant will provide an active calming center for students that can be used in their classrooms.  Each station has a physical or mental task that helps them calm down and be ready for learning or for problem solving when there is an issue.

Orff Percussion Instruments: Instrumental Musical Creativity
$ 1,977.38 St. Brendan School: Ted R. Brauker, Music Dept.
Musical curiosity and play are important features of the music classroom. The use of the Orff Method and the percussion instruments will provide a way for students to explore and play with music through means that are much less contingent on the creation of airborne particulates.  Students will have the ability to experiment with different musical sounds and participate actively in the music making process.

Award Winning Books for Classroom Libraries
$ 1,017.38 St. Brendan School, Vanessa Kerr, 3rd Grade
Studies have found that only half the high school students who took the ACT exam were ready for college-level reading. To remedy this education gap, experts recommend focusing on informational texts such as nonfiction books, newspapers, magazines, atlases and other reference materials.  The grant will make sure students have access to the appropriate literature on a variety of themes in their classroom that will promote academic growth and hopefully the desire to become a lifelong reader.

Playful Playground
$ 1,228.01 St. Brendan School: Brandi Cross, Early Childhood Teacher
The development of motor skills in young children is very important.  The use of tunnels will help foster crawling which leads to well-developed executive functioning skills and helping children feel grounded.  Tricycles, bikes, pulling wagons, and pushing scooters are some of the best ways to develop the larger muscles in our lower extremities. The use of balls and frisbees are a fantastic way to help with the development of reflexes and they also present sharing opportunities among the students.

Technology Support
$ 500.00 Hawthorne: Peggy Klick, 4th Grade
With the increased use of technology in the classroom and the need for the devices to be charged when students need to use them there is an increased need for portable charging stations for laptops and Chromebooks in the classroom.  When students use the devices they also are in need of headphones as to not disturb others in the room.  

Classroom Library for Students Who Are Reading Below Grade Level
$ 318.80 Eugene Field: Katelynn Isaacson, 2nd Grade
Resources will provide students who are reading below grade level access to books on their level.  The books will help the students with sight words and phonetic skills on a kindergarten and early first grade reading level.

Fidgets and More for Success
$ 275.00 Mexico High School: Rebecca Moppin, Student Success & Behavior Management
The idea or concept is to use objects to, first, develop positive relationships with students who struggle academically, socially, emotionally or behaviorally.  The object is to develop a plan to move students towards success in the classroom through fidgets, puzzles, games, etc.  

Hot Dot Interactive Learning
$ 274.62 Eugene Field: Katelynn Isaacson and Caroline Schafer, 2nd Grade
Hot dots are an interactive battery-operated pens that students can use to practice specific skills independently, yet get immediate feedback on their success.  The materials will be used for student engagement which is often hard to access.  

Fostering Cultural Awareness
$ 838.99 St. Brendan School, Theresa Farnell, 2nd Grade
Fostering cultural awareness is important as our country continues to be a “melting pot” of many cultures. The materials purchased will help students become productive citizens who genuinely care about all individual in our diverse world. 

Novels for English I and II
$ 1,710.67 Mexico High School, Jennifer Silver, English Department
Students need increased engagement and exposure to varying reading resources. The goal is to engage students so they enjoy reading and become better readers in the process.  To do this the students need the resources that are relevant, that help them to become self-motivated readers. By providing choices, they can connect to and represent their culture through choices they will explore ideas through their reading and develop confidence in their reading skills.

Soft Starts
$875.00 Hawthorne Elementary: Amanda Kinkead, 4th Grade
Soft Starts will provide a way for students to enter the school setting and connect with peers in a calm, creative, and engaging way before any academics start.  This year students are in some classrooms each day before their academic day starts and this will give them the opportunity to explore and use critical thinking with the use of hands to build and be creative.

Literacy Sets for Guided Reading
$1,102.30 St. Brendan School: Vanessa Kerr, 3rd Grade
Fountas and Pinnell stress the importance of building a varied collection of material so students can develop their reading skills as well as expand their worlds.  Classroom libraries allow students the opportunity to explore a variety of texts, genres, and narratives that support readers’ growth.

Innovation Factory-STEM Kits for Kids! 
$ 1,436.00 St. Brendan School: Kelly Stanford, 1st Grade
Collaborative group activities can boost morale and motivate young discoverers on a mission to problem solve and learn new concepts.  STEM Classroom kits can create opportunities for teamwork and collaboration through shared scientific discovery. Young scientists will learn how to be team players and enjoy the enlightening world of science at the same time.

Growth Mindset & Covid Adaptations
$ 1,004.08 St Brendan School: Vanessa Kerr, 3rd Grade
Students need to be taught how to manage stress and how to develop a Growth Mindset. With social distancing restrictions students need places to relax, mask free.  The bouncy bands will allow a way for students to move more.  Using lap desks give students the opportunity to take a learning activity to a safe sport or even outside for a break from their seats.  The round seats are portable and provide a comfortable place for individual students to read or work or even place it beside their desks on the floor while remaining 6 feet from their classmates.

Hear All Things, Speak All Things
$ 1,000.00 Mexico High School, Rebecca Moppin, Student Success & Behavior
It is an initiative to provide students with individual headphones and microphones for foreign language studies in order to ease the burden on multiple levels so each student will be provided with their own headsets. The object is to provide a safer and cleaner environment by reducing the need to share headphone/microphone combinations between students. If the grant is recommended it will impact 100+ students enrolled in classes utilizing the foreign language labs.

Light Up Their Learning
$ 340.92 McMillan Early Learning Center: Kayla Hildebrand, Pre-K
Preschool aged children often learn through play. The learning centers are scheduled each day where they work together with various materials and manipulative. The light table and light table manipulatives will enhance their learning skills while making the experience fun.

Individual Sports
$ 1,665.00 St. Brendan School: Olivia Kerr, P.E.
Returning to learning has included many changes as students are limited in movement throughout the day. The project will help fund materials that can be used during PE no matter what level the school is currently observing that will keep students active, healthy and strong.

Calm Down
$ 1,254.47 St. Brendan School: Selena Ramsey, Pre-K
The use of technology allows everyone to connect remotely with family far away. It offers a way to work and learn remotely, but what it doesn’t allow often is a way to turn off, to calm down or enjoy the world around us.  With the use of fidget devices, calming blocks, weight objects, and sensory pods student will learn how to calm their bodies and use the calm and quiet to focus and learn.

Everybody’s Talking
$ 2,472.22 St. Brendan School: Selena Ramsey, Pre-K
In the early childhood years, a critical role in the development of language is through the child’s interactions with adults and how often the children are being read to.  The grant will provide storytelling kits that will foster language development and expand the knowledge they already have.

Kiddie Kits
$ 834.47 St. Brendan School: Brandi Cross, Early Childhood Teacher
The materials of the grant will allow students to explore different careers, transportation methods, and health safety choices.  Students will learn their numbers and letters. All materials are created to be age appropriate for their development.  The manipulatives contain pictures, and tons of other materials tailored to the interest of small children.

BrainPOP Curriculum
$ 230.00 Eugene Field: Samantha Malott, 4th Grade
BrainPOP is a subscription service that provides videos, games, quizzes, and assignments.  The topics include all of the core areas, engineering, technology, and health.  This is an engaging resource that can help front-load many different topics.