Teachers’ mini-grants get creative

Posted Monday, Sep. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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More information Go to www.mansfieldisdfoundation.org through Oct. 11 to help fund a We Can Choose mini-grant.

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Want to help a student meet a Holocaust survivor, run 10 miles, dissect a squid or use perception goggles to study how the brain works? You can make it happen through a Mansfield ISD Education Foundation We Can Choose mini-grant.

“We are trying to participate with the community to fund these small programs teachers need in their classrooms,” said Linda Bacsik, foundation director. “The teachers really want to do some cool stuff.”

Teachers from 16 Mansfield district schools submitted proposals for 35 grants for $250 or less each, totalling $7,965.29. The Education Foundation is asking parents, businesses and members of the community to log onto its website and donate to their favorites.

“Whether they can donate $10, $5, it all adds up,” Bacsik said. “The foundation is going to put $5,000 toward these grants. We’ll see what parents have donated. If a grant is partially funded, we’ll finish it out.”

And there is a diversity of creative ideas. Siobhan Flowers at Lake Ridge High School has asked for $246 to start the Career Cafe, where professionals come in at lunch to talk about their careers with students who have expressed an interest in their field. Three teachers from T.A. Howard Middle School have each asked for $241.50 so their seventh-graders can dissect a squid to learn about internal adaptations. At Timberview High School, English teacher Cindy Malone asked for $250 to invite a Holocaust survivor to speak in her classroom.

Since 1999, the Education Foundation has passed out almost $3 million in donated funds to teachers for “innovations in their classrooms that go above and beyond or for a need that needs to be met with kids that are underserved,” Bacsik said. This will be the third year for the We Can Choose mini-grant program. Last year, all 38 requested grants, totaling $7,727.56, were funded with the foundation supplying $2,503.56 and the community picking up the rest of the tab.

Donna Sibila, a fifth-grade science teacher at Mary Orr Intermediate School, has received large grants (for a digital microscope, water testing kits and energy awareness) and mini-grants from the foundation. With a mini-grant for $243.69, she was able to purchase lab aprons for her students last year.

“Students need lab aprons to do a few things where they get messy,” Sibila said. “That’s not a high priority for our budget. We spend a lot of our budget on consumable supplies.”

This year, she is asking for $243.79 to order 37 subscriptions to Super Science from Scholastic, like Weekly Readers for science, Sibila explains.

“They help kids connect science with the real world,” she said. “They will do timely stuff, like things they have heard about on the news. They will show where the warts are on a warthog, it’s an adaptation.”

After using the magazines in the classroom, she will send them home with students who wouldn’t have access to the information otherwise.

Community members have until Oct. 11 to log on and fund their favorite grants through PayPal at www.mansfieldisdfoundation.org.

Amanda Rogers, 817-473-4451 Twitter: @AmandaRogersNM

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