Foundation surprises teachers with grants

in Schools by

By Tess Malijenovsky
Last week members of the Foundation for Educational Excellence visited 14 public school teachers to reward them for their innovative project ideas.
The foundation is a fund of the Community Foundation of the Lowcountry chaired by Jan Davis-Vater of Hilton Head Island. It aims to raise funds for teacher grants that spur innovation, giving out grants twice a year. The Winter 2012 grants ranged from $120 to $500 and totaled $5,000, thanks to First Citizens Bank.
“Public school budgets being what they are these days, teachers often can’t fund these sorts of specialized projects,” Davis-Vater said. “Either they find the money themselves or the projects don’t happen. That’s why the foundation’s role in helping teachers to improve academic achievement is so important.”
Here are the Winter 2012 Innovative Teacher Grant recipients (north of the Broad River):
• Shelia H. Cato, Beaufort High, Grade 9 Enrichment Seminar ($500) — “Read 180” is an intensive, research-based reading intervention program that increases reading achievement of struggling students. Students learn reading, spelling, writing, grammar, and test-taking skills using individualized instructional software, data-driven small-group instruction and independent reading. This project will provide the rBook, a workbook that “scaffolds” instruction through the use of graphic organizers, sentence starters and writing frames.
• Hannah Lea, St. Helena Elementary, Grade 4 Music ($426) — Purchase recorder wind instruments and a Music Magazine subscription. This project will provide opportunities for student-to-student interaction and support cooperative learning. Fourth-graders will collect data on individual student goals, progress and achievement. Students also will incorporate data into tables, line graphs and bar graphs during math class. At the end of the unit, the students will host a school-wide showcase of their work with a performance.
• Shane R. Peek, Whale Branch Middle, Grade 5-7 Science ($120) — Purchase a 50-gallon rain barrel that students will help attach to the school gutter systems.  Run-off water can then be stored and used to irrigate the school’s butterfly, herb and vegetable gardens instead of using school-funded water supplies.  The practices students learn through this project will teach them competent conservation skills beneficial in their everyday lives.
• Suzi Prekop, Mossy Oaks Elementary, Grade 1 ($167) — Purchase board games that promote deductive reasoning, problem solving, drawing comparisons, computation and math skills. The board games will provide students with opportunities to play games that foster the development of speaking and listening skills while also developing thinking and problem-solving abilities under the guise of having fun.
• Kelly Pulaski, Coosa Elementary, Grade 2 ($293) — Purchase books to do an author study during independent reading. During the Patricia Polacco author study, students will explore themes such as racism in “Mr. Lincoln’s Way” and sibling relationships in “My Rotten Redheaded Older Brother.” This author study will help students understand the relationship between reading and writing. During writing workshop, students will write responses in their journals to further connect characters and themes in books.
• Dana Scaglione, Beaufort Middle, Grade 6 Music ($130) — Purchase musical wind instruments commonly known as recorders. Students will learn the fundamentals of reading and understanding sheet music, culminating in a classroom performance. Research shows that the process of playing simplified wind instruments, while reading from sheet music notation, significantly benefits cognitive development.
• Steve Shamblen, Beaufort-Jasper Academy for Career Excellence, Grade 9-12 Math ($500) — Purchase a class set of Texas Instruments TI-30XS multi-view calculators to use in preparing for Algebra 1 end-of-course exams and high school exit exams. The calculators will provide learning-disabled and at-risk students with greater opportunities to succeed on these high-stakes tests. As a result, more students will be eligible for graduation with a diploma in addition to the certification they earn in their Career and Technology Education programs.
The foundation solicits individual and business donors and also holds a major fundraiser each spring that features silent and live auctions of items donated by individuals and businesses.  The 2012 fundraiser is scheduled for 6-9 p.m. Friday, March 2, at the Country Club of Hilton Head.  Tickets may be purchased on line at www.foundationedexcellence.com (click on “Tickets” at the bottom of the page).