Local News

August 4, 2009

Foundation rewards innovative teaching

Meg Baker knows Spanish-speaking families need extra help when their children start kindergarten, but she says her resources are limited.

One of five English as a second language teachers at Antioch Elementary School, Baker was among 26 recipients of innovative teaching grants awarded by the Whitfield Education Foundation Tuesday morning.

Baker will use her $1,000 to purchase about 10 copies each of eight different storybooks in Spanish that are the same as the English titles students use in kindergarten classes. The books will be for parents to check out so they can be involved in their children’s education even if they do not know English. Last year, about 225 of the 600 students at Antioch were English language learners, Baker said.

Funding for the grants increased by $2,000 over last year, to $27,000, thanks at least in part to the popularity of the jeans days for teachers introduced last year, organizers said.

Foundation executive director Mary Ellen Kinsey said the organization hosts several fundraisers throughout the year to collect money for the teaching grants. They include the jeans days, a student performance day similar to “American Idol” and an annual golf tournament. The funding goes toward special teaching programs that aren’t covered in a school’s budget.

Tom Brown, a teacher of the visually impaired who travels among several schools, said he’ll use his $689 grant to purchase physical education equipment for those with special needs. Two examples are Braille playing cards for students with visual disabilities and balls with a special surface for students who have trouble gripping things.

“It will be for the entire system,” he said.

David Stone, a sixth-grade math and science teacher at North Whitfield Middle School, said the $600 grant he received will be used for equipment for a “Learning Logs” program. Students will receive equipment to sand, take off bark, and fasten logs together for team building courses and math/science projects.

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