Retired teachers award 11 educator grants
The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Foundation, Inc., recently awarded 11 educator grant awards to local teachers, including, for the first time ever, two from the retired teachers themselves.
Awarding this many awards would not be possible without the generous support of the company sponsors who see the very important need to support those teachers who are willing to try innovative and creative projects in their classrooms.
A very special thanks is given to the Betty McLaughlin Endowment, Duke Energy, HighPoint Health, the Knights of Columbus, Los Primos, Maxwell Properties, Inc., United Community Bank, Valley Rural Utilities, and Walmart who sponsored projects which would not have been possible without their help.
Roy Johnson, Agricultural Science Instructor at East Central High School, is the Dearborn County Retired Teachers’ 2017-18 grant winner.
Grant money will be used to purchase a gas-powered forge to teach the fundamentals of blacksmithing. Students will make simple projects such as S-hooks or more complicated projects such as shepherd’s hooks. This project allows students to work with their hands and gives them an opportunity to do something creatively. Johnson is a previous Educator Grant winner.
Emma Rauch, Heather Lunsford
Emma Rauch and Heather Lunsford at Sunman Elementary are also retired teachers’ winners. They are being recognized for their STEM (Science Technology Engineering Mathematics) hands-on science Makerspace project for grades K-5.
This program allows students to deal with technology, sensory stimulation, critical thinking, and collaborative learning.
Ozobot Evos, miniature robots which use computer code to follow student commands, will be purchased. The robots will use sensors to follow different color lines on the playfield while avoiding obstacles which the students place in their way.
Snap circuits also will be purchased to help students create light and sound by completing an electrical circuit. Finally, students will work with a K’NEX set of levers and pulleys. Lunsford has been a former Educator Grant Winner.
Jennifer Fischer, Heather Billig
Jennifer Fischer and Heather Billig, Greendale Elementary, are sponsored by the Betty McLaughlin Endowment. For this project seventh grade math and science will work on a collaborative STEM project in which students will be responsible for building their own Mousetrap cars. Forty-five kits are needed.
Students will then design a car which is powered by energy released by the snap of a mousetrap. They will then need to test, redesign, and modify their cars based on their successes/failures. Next they will develop a short video or prepare a Google slide with details to share their experiences with their classmates.
Dianna Petty, Aurora Elementary, is sponsored by Duke Energy. For this project independent classroom centers will be used for the first 20 to 30 minutes of the day which will engage the students in hands-on activities.
Students will spend one week at a center and then rotate to a new center for the following week. The Osmos Genius Kit and other Osmo games will be purchased for the rotation time.
The classroom currently has the needed iPad for the Osmo games, but with the purchase of three extra bases, four students could use the Osmo each morning.
Osmo turns core subjects such as math and spelling into endless fund with many ability levels. There are visual thinking activities with Tangram pieces and problem-solving games. A creative drawing experience can be explored over and over.
Winner of the Toy of the Year in 2015, the Osmos Genius Kit, will include the Osmos Pizza Co. Game which will focus on math, money, and fraction skills to run a pizza shop, the Osmos Coding Awbie Game which will introduce children to the fundamentals of coding, and the Osmo Hot Wheels Mindrace Game which will call for real word dexterity by using tokens to react and strategize.
Erin Wuestefeld, Aurora Elementary, is in a partnership with Hands in Autism from Indiana University whose goal is to provide learning opportunities designed to improve understanding and the ability to work with students with autism spectrum disorder and other developmental and behavioral challenges.
Unfortunately, IU does not provide funding for this project. In this project a house model is used to build an environment. This then moves to assessing, setting goals, teaching, and generalizing in an effort to help students with ASD to become successful within the classroom.
Building the environment involves setting up physical and visual structures within the classroom, creating classroom choreography, creating students’ schedules, and creating work systems. Items such as duct tape, carpet squares, curtains, labels, leisure item and sensory items are needed to create a specific and structured environment for the students to help decrease anxiety and increase independence.
The goal is that these strategies will be available to all teachers. HighPoint Health generously sponsored Wuestefeld’s project.
Bryan Wagner, St. Lawrence Elementary, wants to create a new physical education elective for students in grades 6-8 to include exercise, nutrition, and health. According to teacher Bryan Wagner, “it will promote positive image and encourage students to live a healthy lifestyle.” Yoga mats and weights will be purchased by the Knights of Columbus.
Sarah Carr, Sunman Elementary will create art centers to be set up during fun days, alternatives for students for students with special needs, transition time from one project to the next, and for substitute teacher days.
These STEAM centers will experience the integration of art with such subjects as math and science and foster independent problem-solving.
Legos, K’nex Learning Resources Playground Engineering, Spiral Art, and Super Spirograph will be purchased for the learning centers. Carr’s project is sponsored by Los Primos of Bright.
Connie Turner, Shelly Koth
Connie Turner and Shelly Koth will be sponsored by Maxwell Properties, Inc. Third graders at Bright Elementary will use everyday objects such as cottonballs, cups, Q-tips, etc., to explore scientific concepts. Students do not have access to an actual science lab, so these activities will be done in the classroom.
Barb Katenkamp, an administrator at North Dearborn Elementary, envisions a Viking Reading Challenge in which students will read for specified amounts of time to earn “bases” and move around their classroom baseball diamond. Once the students score a “homerun,” the students will write a book review to share over the announcements. They will earn a run for their class and a free book.
The hope is that students will be motivated to read to earn bases and runs for their classroom thereby increasing independent reading and improving the standardized test scores.
This project is based on information obtained through standardized testing and developed by the Professional Development Team at the school. The reading project is sponsored by United Community Bank. Katenkamp is a former DCRTF grant winner.
Julie McAdams, North Dearborn Elementary, is sponsored by Valley Rural Utilities. Fourth grade students will work to create an art piece which will be enriched with lighted elements using copper wire, clips, batteries and LED lights.
Examples might include a room with lamps, lightning bugs, a car with working headlights, or a cityscape with lighted windows. Created pieces will be on display at North Dearborn’s annual art show.
Terri Schmeltzer, an administrator at St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran School in Aurora and former DCRTF Grant winner, has been sponsored by Walmart.
St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran School became a Choice Scholarship School in 2016 and as such is a recognized accredited school. The school is required by the state of Indiana to conduct ISTEP testing.
Previously the school had chosen to administer the Terra Nova battery of Achievement Testing which measures the students’ progress against students from across the U.S. as opposed to just the state of Indiana. The school has received an on-line testing waiver from the Department of Education for the past two years for students to take their tests with pencil/paper.
This year, in order to receive the on-line test waiver, they had to agree that all testing will be conducted on-line in the 2018-19 school year. The problem is that they currently do not have the equipment to administer the test on-line.
The computers needed are thus obviously not luxuries but something that must be provided. Walmart has been particularly supportive of this project.
Applications are available at area schools the first week of January. Teachers must agree to take digital pictures and write an essay about how the grant money has impacted the students.
For additional information, see the Dearborn County Retired Teacher Foundation’s Facebook page or its dearborncountyrta.org’s website. The Dearborn County Retired Teachers Foundation, Inc., is a legacy member of the Dearborn Community Foundation and a member of the Indiana Association of Educational Foundations.
Donations are always welcome and may be sent to the attention of Karl Galey, Superintendent of the Lawrenceburg Community Schools.