District teachers accept grants
The Foundation for Lee County Public Schools awarded $25,000 to teachers Monday night for the 2008 to 2009 Classroom Grants Program.
Teachers in the program apply to receive a grant for a classroom program or project. This year the foundation presented 59 grants districtwide, although Marshall Bower, executive director of the foundation, said there were more applications than available grants.
Grants were presented to teachers at the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre in Fort Myers and will provide additional support for vital classroom activities.
“The reason why we are here is that the foundation and business community love our teachers,” said Bower. “Teachers have the number one job in this country.”
District Superintendent James Browder thanked the teachers for their hard work.
“It’s about those on the ground in the classrooms each day. In this room are representatives of what great looks like,” said Browder.
Requested grants each had a different cash value and many involved technology in the classroom. Richard Konkel, a member of the classroom grant committee, said there were many grants for computer assisted instruction.
“There are a number of technology based. A lot are for science that can easily involve computers,” said Konkel. “They are not icing on the cake. These are meeting the fundamental needs the district can’t afford.”
Sue LosHuertos, media specialist at Diplomat Middle, requested $319 to purchase one iPod for the media center. Through podcasting students can read books and create public book reviews for other students to see.
“The school has a SharePoint internal Web site so kids can post to that,” she explained. “If kids recommend it to each other it’s a better source of information.”
Another teacher at Diplomat Middle, Natallka Hromiak, wrote a grant for the school’s drama department. She received $500 to purchase hanging microphones for the auditorium.
“We will share it with choirs, music, band, string and award ceremonies,” she said. “This way if they speak into it, it will pick up everybody.”
On the high school level, Cape Coral High teacher and 2007 Golden Apple Award recipient Robert Snyder asked for $500 for his “Willy Wonka Way of Learning,” a specialized curriculum for mentally and physically disabled students created by Snyder.
The school will use the grant to purchase 100 pounds of chocolate — 50 pounds of white and 50 pounds of dark — that will help develop a student’s motor and life skills.
“They learn to shop, money, to cook and time skills,” said Snyder. “It’s an all encompassing program.”
Donna Coleman, a teacher of students with autism at Trafalgar Middle, received a grant for students to host their own social events and literature circles.
The foundation also created ArtSpeak, a program that helps children with autism express themselves through art.
Funding for the Classroom Grants Program comes from the Consortium of Florida Education Foundations and local businesses. Through the consortium the Florida Legislature matches business contributions dollar-for-dollar.
Other major sponsors include McBLT Family Ventures, Publix Super Market Charities, Suncoast for Kids Foundation, Wachovia Bank, Citigroup, First Community Bank of Southwest Florida and Lee Memorial Health System.