Kernersville Chamber Provides Teacher Grants
Thank you to “Kernersville News,” which provided this story and the pictures that go with it. It ran as a two-part series in the Nov. 1 and Nov. 3-4 editions of “Kernersville News.”
For more pictures, go to Your Permanent Record.
By Jennifer Owensby Eminger
NOVEMBER 5, 2018 – With 2018 being another great year for the Chamber of Commerce Education Grant Program, Kernersville’s teachers’ days were brightened as they were greeted by an Education Grant Surprise Patrol on Thursday morning, October 25.
Through the Education Grant Program, the Chamber of Commerce, with the help of the community, has been able to award hundreds of thousands of dollars since the inception of the program in 2003. Since that time, the program has grown from awarding three grants to awarding 63 this year.
The money that fuels the program comes from Eating for Education, where local residents dine in participating restaurants on three designated days over the summer with restaurants donating up to 10% of their sales on those days to the Education Grant Program, as well as the generous donations from Chamber member businesses and Shopping for Education.
Chamber of Commerce CEO and President Chris Comer explained that once the school year begins, Kernersville teachers who are interested in doing a project for their students, but may lack the funds to do so, can fill out applications for Chamber grant money.
Once all of the applications are submitted, a selection committee decides which teachers will receive grants based on their applications and proposals, giving at least one to each Kernersville school within the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools (WS/FCS) system.
Selection committee members select the proposals based on a point system in four categories: creativity, long-term use, number of students impacted and overall content.
After the grants have been selected, the committee notifies the schools’ principals and tells them a date they will arrive at the school with a Surprise Patrol to award the teachers their grant money.
The 13 schools were divided into three routes with an administrator from WS/FCS, Kernersville News, and numerous Chamber members and restaurant owners and managers visiting the classrooms of teachers whose grants were selected. The teachers were presented with an oversized check.
Many of the teachers were in awe, shocked and eager to tell their students how the grant money would benefit them in their education.
Comer said they raised $26,775 this year, allowing them to award 63 grants.
Comer paid tribute to both local businesses and community members who dined during Eating for Education for the funds raised for the Chamber Education Grant Program.
“Our restaurants are always so generous and those that eat out during Eating for Education are so supportive,” she said. “We also had more shops in downtown participate during Shopping for Education, which was a huge success. It was a total community effort.”
Comer noted that these grants are very beneficial to Kernersville’s students and teachers.
“The grants are so beneficial because they allow teachers to give additional learning opportunities that may not be in the budget,” she said.
Having visited Kernersville Middle, Kernersville Elementary, Piney Grove Elementary, and Caleb’s Creek Elementary schools on October 25, Comer said she is impressed with what teachers plan to do with their grant money.
Comer shared one of her favorite stops along the Surprise Patrol.
“My favorite was Learning the Alphabet with Annie Apple, which was a grant given to Kendall Rinfrette at Piney Grove because the kids sang to us,” she said.
Several teachers shared with the Kernersville News their reactions to receiving a grant and how they plan to use it.
Amanda Bellamy, speech and language pathologist for pre-K through fifth grade at Union Cross Elementary School, was surprised when she learned she was receiving a check for her grant, “Apps for Therapy.” Bellamy noted that on the day the Surprise Patrol came to visit, they actually had to track her down in the hallway.
“Superintendent Dr. Emory joined the Surprise Patrol here at Union Cross, so as an added bonus, I was able to shake her hand,” she shared.
Bellamy said as a speech and language pathologist, more than half of her students receive articulation therapy services to work on the correct way to produce the “r” sound since it is produced multiple ways depending on the vowel it’s attached to with words such as rabbit, brother, ear, air, tore, art, sour, or fire.
“Difficulties with these sounds impact speech intelligibility, confidence, writing, reading aloud, and communicating effectively with teachers and peers,” she said. “These ‘r’ sounds are very challenging to address because it is very difficult to see what the tongue is doing inside the mouth in order to fix the errors. There are several articulation apps for the iPad that provide visual feedback for students. Most of these children cannot identify when they produce sounds incorrectly simply through listening to their own productions. Visual feedback paired with auditory feedback and direct instruction during therapy is going to serve as incredible tools to assist in their articulation progress.”
Bellamy added that grants such as these allow educators to think outside the box and make purchases that would otherwise be outside of their means, providing them with more freedom to be innovative with teaching methods and to provide more engaging experiences for their students.
“I am ecstatic they chose me to be a recipient,” she exclaimed. “I am looking forward to using these apps in therapy and to see how it helps my students become more effective communicators.”
Julie Riggins, who teaches Math 1 and Precalculus at East Forsyth High School, titled her grant, “Enhancing Math Class Through Programming a Rover.”
Riggins shared that she was thinking about her grant the day before the Surprise Patrol arrived and wondered if they would be coming soon.
“I really wanted this grant, so when they showed up, I was super excited. One of my students touched my hair later because she said my hair bounced when I jumped and she wanted to see if it was stiff. Kids are funny,” she laughed.
After receiving the check from the Surprise Patrol, Riggins said she was able to show her students the Rovers she is going to buy.
“They are excited to get to program a robot car to move,” she said.
With the grant funds, Riggins said students will program the Rover to draw out slope, rise over run, and a line and also illustrate graphs with slope and y-intercepts.
“My precalculus students will be able to explore vectors and polar graphs by programming the Rover. Not many people use slope and y-intercept in their grown-up lives, but a lot of people use some type of logical sequencing and programming to get machines to do what they want,” she said. “I think providing the students this opportunity is valuable for their future.”
Riggins noted how important grant funding such as these are to teachers.
“So many teachers have ideas that will help our students learn and be successful, but a lot of times those ideas cost money. The Kernersville Chamber of Commerce has been so faithful to raise money and award these grants that teachers look forward to every year,” she shared.
Kendra Mabry, who teaches Essentials of English and English 2 for sophomores at Glenn High School, said she was excited to receive her first grant from the Kernersville Chamber of Commerce Education Grant Program. She noted that her grant is titled, Literacy Diversity.
With the grant money she was awarded, Mabry said she plans to buy books that better reflect the 44% Hispanic/Latino students that they have at the school. She explained that many of her readers are also boys and she hopes to get books that will peak their interests.
Nicole Wooten, a fifth-grade teacher at Caleb’s Creek Elementary School who applied for a grant to fund her project, Real Life Reading, said she was very surprised when the Surprise Patrol walked into her room on October 25.
Wooten shared how she plans to use the funds for her project.
“This grant will be used to purchase materials that will enhance my reading instruction,” she said. “The students will be using props and Reader’s Theater materials to bring reading to life. I feel that my students will gain an even greater love for reading as they will be acting it out as well as reading it. This will help with their expression and public speaking abilities.”
Wooten added how important grants like these are for teachers.
“These grants are a blessing to teachers. People don’t realize how much money teachers spend to prepare their students for learning. It means a lot to know that we are given the resources to help our students,” she shared.
The social studies team at East Forsyth Middle School, including teachers Steve Sikkenga, Susan Andrews and Stephanie Moser, applied for a grant through the Chamber because they wanted a more hands-on approach for their lessons.
“Our grant was titled Hands-on History Museum. Our plan is to purchase artifacts and replicas from many of the ancient cultures that we study so that our students can do more than just look at pictures,” said Sikkenga, who accepted the check on October 25. “I was surprised when the team came in with a big check. The kids were both excited and curious since we hadn’t told them about the project.”
Sikkenga explained that the social studies team will be setting up an exhibit a little later in the year titled, “Trade Along the Silk Road,” which will fit their curriculum.
Sikkenga added how thankful they are as a team for this grant.
“Without funding sources like these, we would not be able to provide this type of activity for our students,” he said. “We believe that the kids will be able to use many of our new ‘props’ with videos created using the new iPads that we are learning to use through the Verizon program. It is an exciting learning time at East Forsyth Middle School.”
Leonia Fox-Smith, a kindergarten teacher at Kernersville Elementary School, was another teacher who received a grant for her project titled, If You Build It.
“I am using the grant to purchase building/engineering products as well as books about engineering,” she said. “I have mostly girls and I want to expose them to the possibility of engineering as a career someday.”
Fox-Smith added how grateful she is to have received this grant.
“There is really no other way for teachers to get these special types of things for their classrooms other than with the generosity of others like the Chamber grants. They really mean a lot to us,” she said. “It never gets old to see children learn and explore.”
Deeann Lawson Kidd, a kindergarten teacher at Caleb’s Creek Elementary School, plans to use her grant funds to purchase more hands-on items in her science center for her project titled, Growing Scientist.
“I will purchase things to observe, build, think, explore and create,” she said. “For a school like Caleb’s Creek, who is not Title 1 with extra funds, these grants give us items for our class and students that we would never have without this grant.”
Kidd noted that this is the third grant that she has received through the Chamber Education Grant Program, which she is grateful for.
“The Chamber grants are very easy for teachers to apply for, are not very time consuming and are very profitable for our classrooms,” she said. “Our students benefit the most from this grant and all the children to come through these classrooms.”