FAIRLAND— Christmas came early for 16 lucky Fairland teachers after they were visited by the Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation on Friday.
Foundation members went on a “prize patrol” around the campus where approved teachers were awarded grants in the elementary, middle and high school to help benefit their classrooms.
The Fairland Public School Enrichment Foundation is a broadly based, non-profit community organization whose purpose is exclusively education. The organization’s goal is to secure and distribute contributions from individuals, corporations and foundations for the benefit of the students in the Fairland Public Schools.
Participating teachers filled out an application to the foundation explaining what items they needed most to help impact their students. When approving the proposals, the foundation looks at certain criteria like significance, how it would impact the students and class size.
"We gave out more than $7,800 in grants this year,” said Serena Wilson, president of the Fairland Public Schools Enrichment Foundation. “The money was raised at our fundraiser, ‘Denim & Diamonds,’ which will be held next year on April 8 at the Coleman Theatre. A lot of these grants were to replace reading books and old materials. We try to help any way we can.”
Last year, approximately $5,000 in grants was awarded to teachers and the foundation wishes to grant every educator’s application in the district.
“We fulfilled all of the applications that we could with the funds we had available, but we hope to grant even more next year,” Wilson said. “My hope is to have every teacher apply for a grant and we fill them all.”
The 16 teachers that were approved include Jana Bartley, Tammy Powell, Nancy Goforth, Misty Moncada, Alisha Brodrick, Jennifer Johnson, Jackie Brown, Andrea Heilig, Donna Ridgley, Shandy Bowers, Carla Shaw, Mary Caudill, Josh Schertz, Jana Jenkins, Kathy Brock and Chali Looper.
Wilson, board member Jeff Brown and treasurer Candi Anderson helped distribute the prizes. Students and staff were dressed up for Halloween and tiny Batmans and ninjas answered the door to find a goodie bag and a congratulatory balloon. The students cheered “yay!” as their teachers’ eyes glowed with excitement.
A majority of grants were awarded to the elementary due to large classroom sizes and lack of supplies. Second grade teacher Kathy Brock was awarded a grant for math materials.
“Our grant was for math manipulatives to help us do concrete math and then we can move onto abstract math,” Brock said. “We all have a math bag of tools in our desks except for our new student who has just one item, so now he will have a math kit.”
The grant will allow her to purchase counters, connecting blocks, math words and rulers. The students said the kits help them understand the process and perform better on tests.
A majority of teachers dip into their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies but prize patrol gives the foundation the opportunity to give back to the schools.
“These teachers have to be thrifty and inventive, and it’s so nice to be able to go ‘here’s money for the projects you really want and need,’” Wilson said.
Pre-kindergarten teacher Goforth said she had purchased numerous materials for her class at garage sales, but could not afford an iPad on her own.
“Everything I do throughout the year is on one iPad,” Goforth said. ”I make a video at the end of the year of what we’ve done, and if one kid deletes it, I would lose everything. Now, I will have two iPads to do learning on and I won’t have to worry about something being deleted. Thank you so much.”
Two grade school teachers, Brown and Heilig, filled out a joint application for a new library with reading books, which would be used by both of their classes. The women exchanged high fives and hugs after being awarded the grant.
“We wrote a grant for classroom libraries, and we decided to write it together because we need first grade reading level books,” Brown said. “Some of the books are paperback and fall apart easily. We constantly need to be replenishing our library out of our own funds or from donations. This will help re-establish the collection we have and level the students with their own books.”
The library will go inside of Brown’s reading hut she has in her classroom. Her father constructed a safari-themed pavilion where her books are located.
“With writing the grant together, we can get an assortment of books and share it,” she added. “There are so many options we can do with writing it together, and we can make sure our kids are doing the same things. It keeps us and the students on the same track.”
The "prize patrol" day was filled with smiles and tears of joy, which Wilson said is the foundation’s primary goal.
“I think it makes the teachers feel validated and inspired to try new projects they’ve always wanted to do,” Wilson said. “We want to show them that they’re appreciated.”