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SPS Foundation awards first teaching grants

Friday, March 30, 2007

(Photo)
Carolyn Pike, a seventh grade communication arts teacher at Sikeston Middle School, smiles after learning she received a $2,000 grant.
SIKESTON -- Carolyn Pike opened the door to her seventh grade communication arts classroom Wednesday afternoon only to find an oversized check in the amount of $2,000 staring back at her.

"Oh, my!" the Sikeston Middle School teacher said as she stared in disbelief. "You're kidding?"

But Sikeston R-6 Board of Education President Julie Dolan, Sikeston Foundation Board Executive Director Robin Stoner and Foundation Board members Nonie Fuchs and Sharon Black, who were presenting the check, weren't joking.

Pike was just awarded one of two of the Foundation's first teaching grants. "I'm just shocked because I filled out the (grant) application on a whim," Pike said. "... There are so many people who have very creative minds and could use the extra money."

After learning she'd received the grant, Pike shared the news with her three fellow seventh grade teachers, who will also benefit.

"Wow! That is fantastic! Two thousand dollars? Let's buy chocolate," fellow seventh grade teacher Cindy Brown joked.

In September, the Foundation informed teachers in the district of two grants that would be available for use during the 2007-2008 school year. One was for individual teachers to apply for up to $1,000; the other was a grant for up to $2,000 for a team of teachers to use.

The grants were to be used to improve student learning through new, creative teaching activities.

"We've worked hard to raise funds, and it's been an ongoing process," Dolan said. "We're very pleased we're able to provide this to teachers and hope it serves as an incentive for more donations and support for our Foundation."

Ginger Schwab-Huffman, a third grade teacher at Southeast Elementary, was the other recipient of the Foundation's funding. She received her requested amount of $980.62 to develop a math hands-on learning project consisting of several math stations based on national content standards to help close the achievement gap.

"The overall gift of the Foundation is awesome," said Schwab-Huffman, who admitted she, too, was thrilled when the Foundation representatives came knocking on her door armed with the check, balloons and candy.

The grant Schwab-Huffman received was sponsored by the Sikeston Rotary Club.

"Our students will benefit from this," Schwab-Huffman said.

Pike's grant application included an idea to use funding for creative writing scrapbooks. Pike said she tried to implement the project earlier this year but it was so costly.

"It was a wonderful idea but expensive so I decided to go for it and see if I could get money for the seventh grade teachers," Pike said about applying for the grant.

In September, every Sikeston R-6 staff member received proposal guidelines for the grants, Stoner said. Following the Dec. 1 deadline, the Foundation received five applications.

"They had lots of good ideas," Stoner said. "Everyone was deserving. I wish we could've given money to all five."

The Foundation has made great strides in the last year, Stoner noted.

"I'm just so excited to be taking this first step to make an impact on our schools," Stoner said.

The Foundation's goal is to grow its funds and award more grants to teachers, Stoner said.

Meanwhile, Pike said she encouraged other teachers to apply for the Foundation's grants next year.

"It's like I tell the kids about the MAP (Missouri Assessment Program test)," Pike said, "try -- because you never know."

To make a donation or learn more about the Foundation, contact Stoner at 472-8833.