Erika Hill believes one way to help struggling readers is to get them hooked on a series.
“A lot of our levels struggle to find books they enjoy,” she said. “A series naturally leads them into a new book.”
Thanks to a $1,442 innovative teaching grant from the Carroll Education Foundation, Hill will buy enough books to fill a bookcase for the Carroll Academic Reading Enhancement Program.
This year, the Foundation granted $80,000 through 25 grants to help fund teachers’ initiatives. Since 1996, the foundation has given teachers $1.15 million in grants. All the money is raised through donations.
“We seek to cover the needs of the district that are not necessarily covered in their normal operating budget,” foundation President Kacy Hankins said. “We want something that’s going to expand the education of the kids in the district.”
Hankins, along with foundation members and benefactors, paraded through several Carroll Independent School District campuses — complete with a marching drumline — to hand out large, novelty checks to teachers.
Durham Intermediate School students lined the hallways to watch the commotion and see Hill’s excitement as she held her first giant check. The scene of students celebrating the funding was similar at the district’s other schools with children reaching to touch the checks and singing the intro to The O’Jays song “For The Love of Money.”
The grants pay for a variety of equipment and programs teachers would not have access to otherwise.
Teachers apply for the grants with information on what they need and why, and a committee evaluates each application. Some of the monies this year will go to buy new LEGO robotics sets, some teachers plan to buy tablet computers, an art teacher wants to install a kiln so students can create works of glass.
Emily Setford teaches the talented and gifted students at Carroll Elementary School and applied for a $2,999 grant to purchase a new set of LEGO Mindstorms.
“The equipment I have is so old and outdated,” she said. “It was probably not going to last through the school year.”
Superintendent David Faltys came along for the parade.
“Our teachers write grants for things that are innovative and out of the box,” he said. “These are dollars we couldn’t fund and programs that would not get funding otherwise.”