Pattison teachers going colonial

Andrew Glover, Katy Times

Seven Pattison Elementary third grade teachers with the help of a grant provided by Fund for Teachers, will take a trip to the Historic Triangle June 4-9, to enhance their curriculum of Early America.

The Historic Triangle is made up of the historic sites of Jamestown, Williamsburg and Yorktown. The seven teachers are: Beth Emerson, Jill Hortness, Whitney LaRocca, Regina Thompson, Pennylane Lara, Laura Sanders and Cathie Paz. The group named themselves “Team Jamestown” and was all filled with excitement about receiving the grant.

Six Pattison Elementary teachers will get a real hands-on look at colonial America. Pictured here (left to right) are (front) Jill Hortness, Whitney LaRocca;,(middle) Beth Emerson, Regina Thompson;(back) Cathie Paz, Pennylane Lara and Laura Sanders.

“It’s a great opportunity,” Paz said in the Pattison Elementary Conference Room.

“This is the second time we’ve applied for the grant,” LaRocca said.

“With this being the 400th anniversary, they have done up Jamestown.” Lara aid the group is honored with receiving the grant.

“Tons of applicants applied and we were chosen,” Lara said.

The six of them agreed that the trip would definitely impact their teaching of the Early American time period.

“We (Team Jamestown) feel this trip will open our children’s eyes, as well as our own eyes, to just how far we have come in 400 years, and the gratitude we should have for those that paved the way for this great nation.” Emerson said in the grant proposal.

“It will help us bring Jamestown to life and bring it to the classroom,”

“You can only learn so much from textbooks and pictures,” LaRocca said.

“Students learn about American History in fifth grade, so hopefully our excitement for the unit will spark their interest.”

“It will be a good base for them to take to fifth grade,” Sanders said.

Emerson said the teachers would be looking at artifacts to build resource kits.

With a $7,500 budget they only have enough money for one kit but with the support of the community and third grade parents, they have raised enough money for two resource kits.

All seven teachers said they are excited about just going there.

“The fact that we can go as a team, and come back and collaborate as a team will benefit out curriculum of Early America,” Lara said.

“When you dedicate your life to teaching, you’re a lifelong learner.” Emerson said. “We can better our student’s lives and our lives by going on this trip.”

Jamestown was the first permanent English settlement in America and is located southeast of Richmond, VA.

Yorktown was the final battle in the American Revolution that resulted in the surrender of the British.

Teachers to study Holocaust in Europe

Tulsaworld.com

Two area educators with a passion for teaching about the Holocaust are going to Europe next month, with the help of a grant that provides travel opportunities for teachers.

Jenks High School teacher Nancy Pettus and Bixby Middle School teacher Jean Bundy recently received a $7,500 grant through Fund for Teachers that will enable them to get a closer look at history as they visit Holocaust-related sites throughout Europe.

Fund for Teachers is a foundation that provides opportunities for pre-K through 12th-grade educators to enrich their own education and that of their students.

Pettus, a world literature teacher who offers an elective each year related to the Holocaust, said she thinks the perspective she’ll gain from visiting Holocaust-related sites in Poland, Germany, and other European countries will help to make her “a more credible witness” to students.

“I’m certain we’ll learn a lot,” Pettus said of the experience, which will include visits to museums, memorials, concentration camps and other locations.

“You’re just a more credible witness if you can say you’ve been there.”

The teachers’ trip is scheduled for June 14-26.

Bundy, who teaches English and offers a 12-week Holocaust study, said she is grateful for the opportunity she and Pettus received.

“They (Fund for Teachers) want teachers who have a passion for something to keep that passion going,” she said.

“It’s just an awesome program.”

Bundy and Pettus said they’ve known each other for some time, and they’ve participated in Holocaust-study-related programs together.

When they found out that they were among those chosen to receive a grant, Bundy said they were excited that they would be traveling as a team while learning more about a subject that is so important to them.

“We were thrilled we got it,” Bundy said.

“Most teachers would not be able to enhance their teaching this way without financial help.”

For more about Fund for Teachers, visit www.fundforteachers.org.

Compton teacher to explore the influence of Mesoamerican culture on modern-day pueblos and cities

Cynthia E. Griffin OW Staff Writer
OurWeekly.com, Los Angeles

For eight days next month Compton teacher D’Anza Smith will have the opportunity to explore and see firsthand how the cultures of Mesoamerica influence some of the literature she and her seventh grade English students are studying at Roosevelt Middle School.

From an anthropology museum to archaeological sites to pueblos, she and a fellow Compton educator—Oscar Rodriguez, a sixth grade history teacher at Whaley Middle School-will study the food, music, dance, and culture of the Aztecs, Mayans, and hopefully the Olmecs in Mexico.

The pair got the opportunity to take the journey thanks to a grant they won from the Fund for Teachers, and there are 20 other teachers from 15 schools who were awarded a total of $77,000 in the L.A. area for summer education and travel.

“I found out about it through NeaToday, the National Education Association magazine, then I also looked it up on the National Council of Teachers of English website,” explained Smith about how she heard about the program. “I thought it was a unique grant where I could create my own professional development.”

Among the stories Smith has her students read are The Circuit by Francisco Jimenez and Lupita Manana, which both explore people crossing the border into America trying to find a better life.

To make this relevant to her African American and Samoan students, Smith said she plans to focus on the multicultural aspect. “I want to present to my students how African Americans (and Samoans) can appreciate different people by seeing how I was able to maneuver myself through a foreign country,” explained Smith, who has seen the tensions between African Americans and Latinos on her campus, and believes they are caused by misinformation.

Consequently, in the fall, she is planning to use the information, souvenirs, and other items she gathers in Mexico to create a multicultural faire that will incorporate all the cultures found within the Compton community.

She and Rodriguez are also planning to create a photographic record of the trip, as well as a daily written journal and will also share these with their students, faculty, colleagues, and the community.

Smith, a six-year veteran of the Compton Unified School District, also sees this trip allowing her to serve as a bridge between blacks and Hispanics.

“As people of color, I can tell my African American students we need to embrace all different groups, religions, and different people and different languages… I want them to understand where (Mexican Americans) are coming from, understand their struggle, and see how their struggle mirrors some of the struggles that African American have and are facing,” said Smith, who has previously told her classes about the people of African descent who live in Mexican cities like Vera Cruz and look just like her students. “They can’t wrap their minds around that. So to give them visible proof of the deep African roots in Mexico and other areas in Latin America is important.”

This is not Smith’s first trip to Mexico. The Palmdale resident said she has been there several times as a visitor, but this time she hopes to gain a more in-depth understanding and appreciation of the culture.

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.

Area teachers get education grants

N Houston Chronicle

More than 100 Houston-area teachers have received $344,000 in grants from a national education foundation called Fund for Teachers. The money from the Houston-based group will send teachers around the nation – and, in some cases, the world – so they can return with new lessons for their students.

Candace Garvin, a special education teacher at HISD’s The School at Post Oak, will travel to South Africa to learn about a mentoring program for troubled girls, for example. Jean King, an art teacher at De Zavala Elementary, will travel to New Mexico to study the art of Georgia O’Keefe.

The Fund for Teachers, founded in 1998 by Apache Corporation Chairman Raymond Plank, doled out $1.9 million in grants to more than 500 teachers nationwide this year.

State teachers to travel the globe, thanks to foundation grant awards

Nora Froeschle, Staff Writer
Chron.com

Teacher Regina Driver, who is originally from Great Britain, said it’s funny, but she had to come to Owasso to finally visit Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon.

“I grew up in southwest London, but I never ever had an opportunity to study in Stratford-upon-Avon,” said Driver, who teaches junior and senior literature at Owasso High School.

That is, until now. Three organizations awarded more than 100 Oklahoma teachers such as Driver a total of $350,000 in grant money to travel and study this summer.

Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence, said it is the second year that the grant program has been offered statewide.

The foundation, along with the Tulsa Community Foundation and the national organization Fund for Teachers, have awarded 69 grants to 108 Oklahoma teachers.

“To help teachers expand their knowledge is one of the best ways that we feel like we can further our mission,” Stratton said. “It is respecting them for what they are doing and recognizing that they need nurturing too.”

Driver said she will spend a week studying at the Globe Theatre in London and a week at Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Shocked by the news that she would receive the fellowship grant, Driver shared it with her students.

“I was amazed at how happy they were,” she said.

Stratton said teachers often have life-changing experiences when they study a subject up close.

“If you’ve had a teacher that has had that experience, she brings, or he brings so much more,” she said.

Elisa Heroux, who teaches earth science at Jenks Middle School, is going to Hawaii to study active volcanoes with the Kona Science Project.

The project is a workshop put on by two geologists who live there, she said.

“They’re going to let us get right up there on the crater,” she said.

Heroux believes she will be able to get closer to lava flows than if she were a tourist.

“I plan on taking a lot of pictures,” she said.

Broken Arrow teacher Beverly Webb said traveling to St. Petersburg, Russia, and Auschwitz, Poland, will help her build a curriculum for teaching about the Holocaust and World War II.

“I’m really excited. I’ve actually been thinking about it most of the year,” said Webb, who teaches sixth-grade world history at Centennial Middle School.

Webb will visit the cemetery in St. Petersburg where at least 200,000 are buried.

“It’s basically a mass grave,” she said. “The Nazis laid siege to Leningrad for 900 days, approximately, and so a lot of people died from the shelling and from starvation.”

Webb, whose class did art projects that expressed their personal feelings about the Holocaust, will also visit Auschwitz, where more than 4 million people, mostly Jews, were executed between 1940 and 1945.

“I hope to be able to take my impressions of what I see and hear and be able to sit down and think of thought-provoking lessons,” Webb said.

Stratton said the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence wants to create its own endowment to fund the program in the years to come.

Washington Trio Wins Grants

Clinton News Daily

Big Adventures are ahead for these three Washington Elementary School educators. Joe Thomas will be retracing the steps of legendary explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark in the Northwestern United States while (continuing from left) language arts and social studies sixth grade teacher Diana Jones and media specialist Tina Hernandez will be packing their bags this June for Egypt. The three won two grants from Fund for Teachers. (CDN Photo by Robert Bryan)

Three educators at Washington Elementary School in Clinton have won two grants from Fund for Teachers that should greatly enhance educational opportunities at their school.

The three honorees are librarian Tina Hernandez, sixth grade teacher Diane Jones and physical education teacher Joe Thomas.

Hernandez and Jones won their grant to finance a trip to Egypt to see several of the historic and geographic sites there as well as tour some Egyptian schools.

They will be going to Cairo, Aswan, Luxor, the Valley of the Kings and the Nile River.

The Clinton pair also will spend an evening with an Egyptian family to learn their customs and about their lifestyles.

Information from their trip will be used to enhance a study unit on Egypt that the school has hosted for several years.

They also hope to make an alliance with a school in Egypt so that Clinton students can write letters to their Egyptian classmates. They plan on embarking for the ancient land of the pharaohs in June.

Joe Thomas won a separate grant which he will use to retrace the westward exploration route of famed explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, hiking, canoeing and bike riding the trails.

Thomas also plans to bring his wealth of experiences exploring the great Northwest United States back to the classroom.

He will be working with the students on using a compass, map skills, the geo-positioning satellite (GPS) system and even setting up tents.

Thomas, who routinely takes his students on long trudges in and around Clinton, will be bringing back video pictures and information on how the explorers were able to survive in the wilderness.

Principal Dawna Mosburg commented, “We are very proud of these three teachers and the work they put into writing these grants. It took them around three months of research and writing, then editing to finish their grant applications. These are an example of the kinds of teachers we have in Clinton.”

The 2006 Plank Fellowship

A trio of Oklahoma teachers have been named as the second recipients of the Plank Fellowship Award. Read more.