BY SHEILA R. McAFEE
The Trenton Education Foundation (TEF) welcomed 13 new teachers to the district in a special way, providing each of them with grants of $250.
“What a generous gift and a nice surprise,” said Cori Bzura, a second-grade teacher at Anderson Elementary School. “We had no idea we were going to receive this.”
Bzura is one of seven new staffers at Anderson who received the grant and plans to use the money to update classroom sets of leveled reading books that allow her young readers to improve comprehension and fluency at their own pace, building confidence in their skills along the way.
Paul Frost, TEF president, and members of the Grant and Projects Committee stopped by city schools last month to present the grants.
“It is a new idea TEF implemented to help the teachers start their careers in Trenton,” said Frost.
With the $3,250 in Welcome Grants, the TEF awarded a total of $15,935 for its fall 2017 grant cycle (there also is a spring cycle). Two levels of grants are available, a mini-grant of up to $750 and a collaborative grant of up to $2,500. Since the inception of the program in 2009, more than $156,128 has been awarded. Additionally, the group announced funding for the Big Idea grant earlier this year, providing $57,768 to install an audio system in the elementary schools.
“We put aside money for a few years to support a large project in the district,” said Frost. “The bi-annual grants are for ‘out-of-the-box’ concepts that might not be included in the annual budget but enhance our students’ education.”
In addition to a Welcome Grant, Anderson’s new music teacher Eric Bottorff was presented with a $720 mini-grant for his “Stop, Uke and Listen” proposal. He will combine the monies to purchase 30 ukuleles for fifth-grade music class.
“The students and I are super excited about the incredible gift from the Trenton Education Foundation,” said Bottorff, who is an accomplished performer on the trendy stringed instrument.
With a much smaller neck and fewer strings than the guitar, the ukulele is a great instrument for little hands and also a natural progression from the recorder students use in fourth grade music class, he said.
Language Arts teachers at Arthurs Middle School were awarded a collaborative grant of $2,500, which they will use to purchase five sets of tables and chairs for small group discussions.
Dawn Kemp, who transferred from Hedke Elementary School to teach seventh grade at Arthurs, said the grant will help her and colleagues Barbara Aguirre, Anissa Cobetto, Gina Lustig, and Alyson Block to set up a space in their classrooms to meet with students and confer about reading and writing or provide individualized instruction.
Two more collaborative grants of $2,421 were awarded to Anderson third-grade teachers Amy Stapleton, Jennifer Wilson and Juli Szalka for nine Chromebooks they will use for individualized math and Readers/Writers workshop and to Hedke first-grade teachers Lindsey Kling, Amanda Merritt, Tracy Allen and Shayne Anderson for nine Chromebooks they will use for individualized math workshop and Daily Five Centers.
Another collaborative grant of $1,598 will be used by Casey Hurst and Cindy Langlotz at Anderson to purchase a MIMIO Teach board that provides student-centered lessons and virtual learning for a deeper understanding and mastery of core subjects.
Jessica Richardson at Hedke was awarded a $525 grant for Boardmaker Studio software to assist students who need visual cues, prompts and support for classroom learning and behavior. She is a new categorical Special Education teacher who also received a Welcome Grant.
In addition to Bottorff, Bzura, Hurst, Kling, Richardson, Szalka, recipients of the Welcome Grant include Jessica Fischer, hearing impaired, and Alyssa Masciovechio, kindergarten, at Hedke; Maris Miller, art, Melanie Robinson, second grade, and Kara Stadleman, fifth grade, at Anderson; and Lynn Lotter, French, and Josh Burt, visual learning, at Trenton High School.
TEF also chose to again award a $2,500 Special Project grant for Challenge Day at Trenton High School, submitted by Angela Siggia, Mary Jo Jezylo, Stacey Marcum and Mike Walters.