by Laura Whitaker
Throughout the calendar year, the Stockbridge Area Educational Foundation (SAEF) receives requests and awards grants to school staff and community members supporting education in our community. The January meeting was no different as grants were awarded to three staff members: Dr. Krisan Fedokovitz will receive funding for yoga mats and blocks that students will use while learning to manage stress and be more mindful, Mr. Wes Perry will purchase building materials to teach students construction techniques by making miniature house pods, and Mrs. Mary Waterhouse is getting transportation funding to take her students to the Michigan Career and Technical Institute.
In the past, many unique grants have been offered to teachers and staff for innovative projects and for a multitude of ideas to help kick-start a program, or add to a program for the benefit of students. Recent requests and recipients have reached students from Kindergarten to graduating seniors.
Kindergarten teacher, Angie Filice, was able to purchase two iPads for her students. She uses them to aid her when doing small group interventions and with work stations. There are times that, even as a one-to-one district, the iPad offers more flexibility when introducing students to new topics and learning how to be a student in school.
Moving up in grades, third grade teacher, Kevin Macomber used his funds to purchase wobble seats as options for more flexible seating in his classroom. “The wobble seats are used on a daily basis. The majority of the class has chosen them as an alternative seat choice at least once. I usually have the same kids grabbing them in the morning or throughout the day to help them focus on their work. They have come to realize that they can perform in class better with the use of these seats. I am very thankful for the SAEF grant as it allowed me to purchase these wobble seats to help my students succeed not only behaviorally in class but academically as well.”
High school English and Science teacher, Jessica Martell chose to write a grant to help pad her classroom library with book club options for her English students. Upon receiving her grant, purchasing books, and implementing her book club in her classroom, Ms. Martell reflected on the positive outcome she saw with her students including:
Students were only required to read one of my book club titles for the class (before they read texts entirely of their own choosing). Many students chose to read multiple book club titles.
-Many students who identified as struggling or reluctant readers read multiple texts from the book club titles.
-In written reflections, a vast majority of students reported they preferred choice over being required to read one book as a whole class.
-One student reported that she “hates” when the teacher picks the books, but that the selection of books for this class was “actually good.” She ultimately finished 2 of the book club titles. The same student, who identifies as a struggling reader, also chose to read one of the titles that was right at the edge of her ability because she was fascinated by the subject and plot. She also asked to borrow the book beyond the end-date of the class so she could finish it on her own.
-One student who identifies as an avid reader chose to challenge himself by trying to finish ALL of the titles I selected for the class before the class was over. He did it, and his father confirmed his dedication to his goal. In fact, the father jokingly reported that at times he had to tell the student to “put down your book” at home because it was monopolizing his time.
Ms. Martell reflected, “Overall, book club was a positive experience for students; thank you for helping make this experience possible.”
The Foundation enjoys receiving the grant applications and observing the different ways staff members utilize the resources available to them. Grant applications are due 4 times per year, Jan 1, April 1, July 1 and October 1. SAEF votes on and awards these grants at their quarterly meetings. Many of the funds used are through donations and through their annual event, the Festival of Tables, held on March 21st at Heritage School. Tickets are available for purchase through the school district for those who would like to attend.