Deidre Esquivel, Amanda Blackburn and Betty Albrecht could barely contain their excitement Wednesday morning.
“This is so much fun,” Esquivel said as the trio lined up at Parkview Elementary. “We get to give away money today.”
The money, about $17,000, came in the form of 16 Sedalia School District Foundation mini-grants approved by the foundation’s Educational Opportunities Committee. Funded through proceeds from the annual SSDF Golf Tournament, Major Saver card sales and private donations, the mini-grants are awarded each year through a competitive grant process open to Sedalia School District 200 instructors to support their educational mission.
Esquivel, SSDF president, and Blackburn, chairwoman of the Educational Opportunities Committee (Albrecht is a committee member), said this year’s grants were largely awarded in support of classroom technology needs including iPads, digital cameras and language arts software packages.
“As the district makes the move to Common Core, which has a strong emphasis on technology, the committee felt like it was important to help make some of those investments so we can really start the push of integrating that technology into the classrooms and getting the kids used to working with it,” Blackburn said.
The women began their day at Parkview Elementary School, where they awarded $970 to third-grade teacher Andrea Young to purchase two iPads and applications and $559 to kindergarten teacher Deedrae Colliver.
Colliver told the Democrat her award will be used to purchase digital camera packages for use in literacy activities. She proudly displayed a copy of a book the students helped produce as a classroom project called “Look at Us.”
Colliver had the class take pictures of each other while reading or working on class projects, then displayed the pictures on her classroom Smartboard.
“We picked three or four pictures and then had the students write the stories for each picture,” Colliver said.
Blackburn flipped through the book as the two discussed the grant, saying: “I find it just fascinating that it is kindergartners doing this.”
Colliver said the students “love it and they are very in tune with technology — it’s just the age we live in.”
“If we don’t put it in their hands, I think we are doing them a disservice,” Colliver said.
That sentiment was echoed through the day as the three women stopped by classrooms, offices and playgrounds — Esquivel carrying a giant check and Albrecht in tow with a dozen brightly-colored helium balloons. Each time being greeted by big smiles from the appreciative teachers.
At the Pettis County Early Child Co-Op, Amy Simoncic and Katie Morrison, both speech pathologists, also received a pair of iPads and associated iSpeak applications.
Simoncic said the devices are a useful tool when working with children with speech or communication difficulties.
“They give children who have problems communicating verbally an opportunity to communicate in a different way,” she said. “We are so excited. We are going to use them a lot.”
While iPads and cameras were sought after items by many applicants, SSDF mini-grants were also awarded for other types of “low tech” needs including a pair of associated grants to Sedalia Middle School science teachers Michelle Steger and Tera Thomas, whose award will be used to purchase the components for a composting system.
“We talk a lot about recycling in class and I coordinate all the recycling for the school,” Steger said. “We also talk a lot about plant reproduction, so once we get this in place we will be able to follow that from step one to the end process. These lessons are more effective if their is a hands on component. This is going to be a lot of fun next year.”
Esquivel said the awards are made at the end of the school year so teachers can make their purchases and plan their curriculum to incorporate the new tools for the next school year.
2012-13 MINI-GRANT RECIPIENTS
Pettis County Early Child Co-Op
Amy Simoncic and Katie Morrison: $900, iPads
Parkview Elementary School
Andrea Young: $976, iPads and accessories/ applications
Deedrae Colliver: $559.80, digital camera bundles
Heber Hunt Elementary
Susan Couhig Sueller and Kathy Burnett: $530, stability balls
Roxann Rowland: $2,240, Math Facts software
Julie Bales and Beth Lyles: $900, iPads and accessories
Susie Howe and Kori Simmons: $664.10, LUNA interactive cameras
Horace Mann Elementary
Andrea Kuhlman: $499, Rosetta Stone ESL software
Lisa Everhart, Sarah Jones, Ashley Wendt, Megann Coulter, Nancy Hurt and Katy Parkhurst: $2,093, Hovercams
Kathryn Haulotte: $807.64, iPod shuffles, headphones, and 100 audio books
Sedalia Middle School
Michelle Steger: $987, refrigerator, lighting, digital camera, whiteboard
Tera Thomas: $400, composter
Smith-Cotton Junior High
Sarah Eisenmenger, Lensie Means and Denise Sturm Cobblah: $2,000, classroom set of graphing calculators (An additional $1,000 will be provided by S-C Junior High PTA to complete the purchase)
Joshua Heimsoth: $1,500, art clay recycler
Michael Wright: $2,010, classroom robotics kits