BVSD teachers win grants

Five local teachers to take paid trips this summer

Amy Bounds
Dailycamera.com

Barbara Steiner is rafting the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon this summer.

The fifth-grade teacher at Boulder’s Bear Creek Elementary won a teacher travel grant for the seven-day trip, saying it’s a way to add firsthand experience to her lessons on the Colorado Plateau.

“It allows teachers to take a dream vacation,” she said.

Steiner is one of five Boulder Valley teachers awarded grants for summer projects this year through the Fund for Teachers. Altogether, the Houston-based group awarded $77,000 to 33 Colorado teachers. Colorado’s Public Education & Business Coalition also contributed to the grants.

The idea is to encourage teachers to create personalized professional development experiences. Teachers must show how the activity will make them better teachers and how they’ll use what they learn in the classroom.

Bear Creek’s Steiner, who will go with an outfitter for her first rafting trip, said she wants to learn more about the river’s geology for a project that will feature her students creating stream tables out of sand. She also plans to keep a journal and take lots of pictures.

“I’m so excited to be able to get down inside the Colorado River,” she said. “Hopefully, I can bring a more realistic side to the projects we do.”

Katie Jones and Peter Mitchell, first-grade teachers from Boulder’s Crest View Elementary, are using their grant to spend two weeks in Pueblo, Mexico, for an English-as-a-second-language class.

The two are taking classes at the University of Colorado to earn their English-as-a-second-language endorsement, and going to Mexico is an optional part of the program. Along with taking a class on how to teach second-language students, they’ll also try teaching English to Pueblo students.

Mitchell said the training should help them better reach their second-language students and teach a required first-grade social studies unit on Mexico.

“We can read as much as we can about Mexico, but it doesn’t compare to actually experiencing and understanding what it’s like to be there,” he said.

The other two Boulder Valley grant winners are Kristie Betts and Megan Freeman from Lafayette’s Peak to Peak Charter School. The two are going to a Colorado writing retreat.