New Kent schools awarded grants

NEW KENT – Last week, the Review reported that the New Kent Educational Foundation (NKEF) donated over $17,000 to New Kent County Public Schools for 2013-2014 instructional grants.

This week, the Review is detailing how exactly the NKEF funding will benefit county teachers and students in and out of the classroom.

The $17,064.77, which will finance 28 of the 38 instructional grant requests, will be shared among the four schools and help bring improved learning across the board.

"We normally allocate $15,000 towards teacher grants, but this year the applications were so strong that we decided to increase our funding level," said NKEF President Christopher Lindsay, a 2002 New Kent High School graduate.

This year, the NKEF donated $2,810.94 for grants at New Kent Elementary School, $2,637.34 for George W. Watkins Elementary School, $2,724.56 for New Kent Middle School, and $3,240.37 for New Kent High School.

The foundation also donated $5,139 to the entire division for the IPad Pilot Program grant.

The school system will receive nine IPads, $15 ITunes cards, and accessory pieces, including cables.

"There were six individual applications for IPads to be used in instruction. We decided to increase our funding amount and purchase nine IPads to create a 'Technology Library,' from which all teachers could pull IPads for instruction," said Lindsay.

"If this is successful, hopefully we can add to the library next year."

Under the IPad Pilot program, teachers will submit an application for the IPads, and a committee comprised of Instructional Technology Resource Teachers and the Director of Instructional Technology Ross Miller will select nine teachers to receive them for the school year.

IPads will be returned at the end of the school year and once again become available through the application process.

New Kent Elementary School grants:

•Actively Engaging Students in Reading & Math ($242.91): Fourth grade teacher Mary Margaret Gillette, along with a Remediation Coach and/or Special Education teacher, will use the grant money to engage below level math and reading students with task cards and games.

•Everyone is an Author ($553.11): Jennifer Milby, Steve GoodSky-Hetzig, Shannon Bennett, and Melissa George, will work with K-5 language arts students who are struggling with writing - and who have difficulty organizing their thoughts and fine motor skills.

First Author software will identify the students' levels of writing and helps them choose a topic, pick a picture prompt, and write with supports.

•Cozy Shades ($368.40): Jennifer Milby, Melissa George, Lauren Birkhead, Jessica Roper, Terri Nash, and Beth Dyson will place 56 cozy shades in classrooms, pre-K to 5th grade.

The cozy shade is a light filter that can easily be placed over fluorescent lights in classrooms. Studies have shown that fluorescent lights in classrooms can increase children's stress levels, disorganization, and blood pressure. Placing cozy shades in classrooms can decrease students' stress and sensory disorganization.

•Putting Small Hands on Mathematics ($238.60): Kindergarten teacher Remle Sherman will use the hands on math materials throughout the year to reinforce kindergarten SOLs, including: more/fewer/same, fractions, adding to 10, money, weight, and time.

•Weighted Lap Lander Blankets ($264 - $24 left unfunded): Preschool teachers Theresa Nash, Lauren Birkhead, Elizabeth Dyson, and Jessica Roper will use four weighted lap blankets for students with sensory/attention deficit needs that interfere with their learning and the learning of others.

The lap blankets will increase sustained attention and appropriate participation, while offering sensory and tactile input, during circle time or other teacher-directed activities. The students will place his or her hands inside the pockets for tactile input and to keep their hands appropriately engaged.