For the eleventh year in a row, the Johnston Community Schools Foundation awarded Johnston educators with grants to improve curriculum and learning experiences.
Kate Leo, a ninth grade English teacher at Johnston Middle School, received a grant for $614 to fund the purchase of six Kindle E-Readers and E-books, magazines and newspaper subscriptions to support non-proficient readers. Foundation member Blair Overton presented her with the check.
This year, $41,000 was available in grant dollars. Foundation secretary Jene Spurgin said it’s one of the largest dollar amounts in grant history. Money is raised through community events, such as the Foundation’s golf tournament, hall of fame banquet, and annual campaign.
The application process opens to all Johnston staff in early September. They must fill out an application stating their need and how the grant money will be spent. The Foundation Board of Directors reviews the applications and awards the money in early November during “Dragon Patrol.”
Foundation president Josh Willis said the main goal of selecting grant recipients is finding the applications that uphold the mission of the Foundation.
“Our mission to enhance our children’s education experience and support educators is the priority,” Willis said. “We look for projects that can be used for multiple years in the classroom and benefit many students.”
On Friday, November 2, students from the marching band, the Dragon mascot, and members of the Foundation surprised 22 educators in their classrooms with grants. Throughout the hallways of the elementaries, middle school, and high school, the Johnston fight song could be heard, along with the cheers of kids in the classrooms.
“It’s a lot of work on the part of the educators and the Foundation to get the grants ready, but this day is all worth it,” Willis said. “The smiles on the kids’ faces, their cheers of excitement, and then hearing the teacher tell the kids how it will be used – it’s a great day for all of us.”
Students in Leslie Shipp’s journalism class accepted a grant for $3,000 from Foundation member Bruce Beguhn. This grant will provide partial funding for the purchase of a Nikon D7000 digital camera and Nikon 70-200mm VR II telephoto lens for journalism, newspaper, and yearbook students.
Ruth Thoreson, a teacher librarian at Wallace Elementary, received a $2,982.42 grant to fund the purchase of e-readers to improve reading skills and comprehension for third, fourth, and fifth grade students.
“We are thrilled to get the grant because this will allow us to get some technology into hands of students that might not have the opportunity otherwise,” Thoreson said. “E-readers can engage reluctant readers and provide different methods of learning for students. This also allows us to have multiple copies of the same book, so a classroom can be reading together, without the high cost of hardback copies.”
For a complete list of grant recipients, click here.