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2019-2020 Grants 4 Teachers Awardees

In October, CFAAC made 22 Grants 4 Teachers awards to Anne Arundel County Public School (AACPS) teachers across the County totaling $10,100. These grants fund creative ideas that would otherwise be impossible to implement in the classroom due to school system funding constraints. This year’s awardees are:

Mr. Burns of Glen Burnie High School for a Memorial Day Remembrance Mural. Many of Glen Burnie High School students have been successful in building military careers with a commitment to serve their community and their country. With gains in military career opportunities through, there are also losses. There are at least 29 Glen Burnie High School students from World War II to Iraq/Afghanistan who gave their lives in the line of duty to protect our country. On May 26, 2020, Glen Burnie High School is hoping to sponsor a Memorial Day program that celebrates the lives of veterans in the community. The highlight of this program would be an unveiling of a painted mural of the faces of the 29 Glen Burnie High School students who died in the line of duty from 1941-2008. Students will make this project come to life through cross-curricular tasks between multiple programs and courses: Signature, Social Studies, Art, English, Media Production, etc. 

Mr. Lane of Phoenix Academy for student storytelling through rap. The Phoenix Academy is a K-12 special education center for students with emotional disabilities, as well as, an alternative high school for students who were not successful in their home high schools. The majority of their students have endured significant trauma, hardship, and disengagement throughout their school careers. Phoenix Academy is the last stop in the public-school continuum, providing many with their last opportunity to succeed. Every year, the staff of dedicated teachers and mental health professionals rise to the challenge of connecting with these often hard-to-reach students in new and creative ways. The connections made with students are what makes the difference! This year Mr. Lane will introduce: The power of music is real! Staff at Phoenix Academy work hard to connect to these students and to let their voices be heard! One way that they connect so well with students is by showing an interest in what the students are interested in - including rap!

Ms. Tillman of Mary Moss at J. Albert Adams Academy for Floating Islands. As an alternative school, the teachers at Mary Moss Academy look for ways to reach out to these students and rekindle a desire for learning. One of the ways is through Project Based Learning, with the goal to get the students to enjoy learning and school once again. Mary Moss Academy is fortunate enough to have canoes that to take the students out and collect water samples, observe the native wildlife, collect trash, and keep records of the water temperature of the Chesapeake Bay. This year they are also creating floating islands to increase the biodiversity of college creek. Students will create islands by constructing floating, porous platforms that will hold soil, native plants, and eventually become home to local wildlife. These islands will enhance the students' understanding of biodiversity by taking a hands-on approach to increasing the biodiversity of the Chesapeake Bay.

Ms. Clark of Benfield Elementary School for EZ Scan and Timer and QR Scan Cards. Ms. Clark wants students who run before school, during recess, or as part of PE Class to have help counting their laps. As runners’ complete laps, they scan their QR code using the EZ Scan® 2 app and track their distance without slowing down. Ms. Clark says the students can then incorporate math and social studies into their PE lessons by calculating how far they have run and can compare their distance to trails across the United States. Groups like Girls on the Run will be able to use the program to help them prepare for their 5K race. Overall, the program will be motivating and a fun way to encourage the students to become more active!

Ms. Esposito of Brooklyn Park Elementary School for Time for Kids Magazine. The teachers at Brooklyn Park Elementary strive to make their students independent thinkers, readers, and citizens. It is important for their students to have opportunities to read current events in the world, state, and often in their own neighborhood. As a Targeted Title One School, the teachers find that many students lack background knowledge and experiences, and Time for Kids Magazine would address many of those needs. Time for Kids Magazine would be an engaging way to help the students become proficient readers, and, would allow them to become knowledgeable about current events, and how these events can affect them as future productive citizens. When students read Time for Kids Magazine, they feel empowered by reading a “real” magazine like adults do.

Ms. Guerieri of Central Special School for fine motor kits. This project funds the creation of 20 fine motor kits to promote fine motor development for students ages 3-21 who attend Central Special School. Each kit is designed by an occupational therapist to promote all areas of fine motor development and will be available to loan to teachers for their classrooms. Kits will support various skills including, but not limited to, finger strength, hand strength, grasp development, bilateral hand use, finger isolation, and crossing the midline. This will also develop and/or improve the functional use of school-related objects such as crayons, glue sticks, scissors, pencils, etc. Each kit will include creative and fun activities that will inspire children to develop their fine motor skills and will enhance the teaching/learning process.

Ms. Bongiovi of Chesapeake Bay Middle School for flexible seating. Research shows that movement in class can boost academic performance and lead to more on-task behaviors, as well, leveling the playing field for students with ADD/ADHD or who have difficulty sitting still. To create a student-centered classroom, Ms. Bongiovi implemented a pseudo-flexible seating last year. At the end of the year she asked how her students felt about this experiment: Christian S. said, “my seat [was] uncomfortable and I couldn’t focus as much at my seat; [with flexible seating] I didn’t get distracted by my group at my table or by the people at other tables. Having seen the benefits of flexible seating Ms. Bongiovi wanted the chance to build an environment where all her students can thrive.

Ms. Nehman of the Ferndale Early Education Center for the Ferndale Reading Party. One of Ferndale's visions is to help each child experience the joys of learning while creating a strong social, emotional, and academic environment. With this grant, the teachers will bring books to life for their students. The Reading Party event will be centered around a children's author or theme. Each teacher will create a different literacy station in their classroom to highlight their classroom’s book. Hands-on literacy activities connect books with early literacy skills. Ferndale Early Education Center will rent a licensed book character costume. Students will visit the character, read a book featuring the character, and be given a book during one station rotation. Research shows that the more children are read to at an early age, the more successful they will be in later years. The goal of this program is to build strong, positive experiences with books to encourage lifelong readers. 

Ms. Swavy-Minton of Freetown Elementary School for glass fusing. Currently, 4th-grade students are learning about the glass artist, Dale Chihuly. They are using his work to focus on the use of color and organic shapes, and to create Chihuly inspired artwork using transparencies, and sharpie markers. Ms. Swavy-Minton would like to heighten their creativity by allowing students to create an actual glass piece of artwork, to provide students a better understanding of the complex nature that is glass artwork. Included in the lesson, she will teach students how Chihuly uses glass blowing to create his art, and the scientific process of creating with glass, by melting and fusing it together.

Mr. Posner of George Cromwell Elementary for Frozen, Jr. Play Production. The students at George Cromwell Elementary are blessed with immense talent and a great hunger to perform. Each year students perform a musical, and this year that musical is Frozen, Jr. The students run as many aspects of the show as possible, including painting set pieces, lighting, sound and set call cues for the show, stage management, acting, and running occasional dance rehearsal. George Cromwell Elementary has a low-income student population; this grant is to help keep ticket prices down to encourage greater participation.

Dr. Ferch of Glen Burnie High School for World Languages Day Competition. Anne Arundel Community College hosts an annual World Languages Day, inviting AACPS high schools to compete to highlight talent in the upper levels of language study. Last year was the first year in which Glen Burnie High School was able to participate. As part of the competition, there is a T-shirt, poster, and photo contest. All members of the two teams (French and Spanish) are required to wear the team T-shirts. Last year, each teacher paid out of pocket to create, print, and ship the shirts. The teachers also paid out of pocket for the materials to participate in the team poster and photo contests. Dr. Ferch noted schools with strong PTAs and greater access to resources were able to produce better quality materials for the competitions. This year, Glen Burnie High School students will be a strong contender, with high-quality products of which their students can be proud.

The 9th grade English teachers of Meade High School for the Holocaust Memorial Experience. Ninth grade students at Meade High School study how ethical leadership calls people to challenge human rights violations. They primarily focus on the Holocaust and then move into more contemporary examples of human rights violations. In order to provide hands-on opportunities for learning, the students will take a field trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. This trip brings a depth of understanding that is impossible to impart through classroom instruction alone. Learning about the Holocaust helps students develop an understanding of the roots and effects of racism, prejudice, and stereotyping. Students learn about the dangers of remaining silent and apathetic towards the oppression of others. This trip has the potential to affect students’ lives immediately as a call to action to make ethical decisions in their own lives when faced with unique challenges or infringement of others' rights.

Ms. Felton of Meade Middle School for AVID school supplies. Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID) is an accelerated academic encore course comprised of approximately 100 students. AVID students possess a desire and willingness to work hard to go to college, but have not had the opportunity to become college-ready. Meade Middle School AVID students need basic supplies such as pencils, pens, dividers, binders, sheet protectors, highlighters, and much more. During the AVID elective, students focus on writing, reading, inquiry, collaboration, and organization while engaging in higher-level thinking, team building, and college exploration.

Mr. Brown of Monarch Academy Glen Burnie for sewing machines in the classroom. Students at Monarch are provided art stations containing a variety of art materials, including different drawing tools, various types of paint, materials to sculpt, and some resources for digital art production. This experience for the students has substantially enriched and given them more autonomy to pursue the various facades of art. Students are finding themselves as artists who can make aesthetic decisions and choices through the many offerings of materials set aside for them. From this newfound understanding of how empowering students become when the facilitator entrusts in their voice to drive the curriculum, our students, boys and girls alike, have expressed a desire to explore the nuance of fiber arts, specifically sewing. Funding from this grant will provide students with the resources necessary to learn the craft through the purchase of sewing machines.

Ms. Zampier of North County High School for increasing dancer turnout. Ballet and other dance disciplines require that the dancer move from an externally rotated position. Finding this "turned out" position is a process for every dancer, and often requires years of training to understand how to hold the position correctly. Unfortunately, dancers will often try to push their turnout by rotating from the knees and ankles rather than from the hips. This not only leads to incorrect placement and training but can also cause a lot of long-term damage. Ms. Zampier will purchase 10 sets of turnout boards for her dance classroom. Turnout boards take away the dancer’s ability to "cheat" and use the friction of the floor to push turnout from their knees and ankles. These boards were created with the cooperation of orthopedic doctors, physical therapists, kinesiologists, and dancers. These boards make sure that dancers are rotating properly from their hips and help them to slowly increase turnout safely. Once a dancer understands how to use this proper alignment, these boards help the dancer increase their strength in that position and their dynamic quality of movement.

Ms. Kenny of Old Mill High School for flexible seating. Ms. Kenny has used flexible seating in her classroom for the last few years. While she has yoga balls, yoga mats, and a few beanbags, the one thing missing are tables to allow for flexible seating. She reports the standard desks are not conducive to student learning. With the desk and chair attached, students who are tall, larger in weight, or left-handed have a hard time fitting in the desk comfortably to take notes. None of the desks are the same height and thus impossible to arrange in groups for projects. Ms. Kenny will use flexible seating to make the students more comfortable and productive. When she first introduced flexible seating into previous classroom settings, the student's test scores improved dramatically- to the point that all of her students were scoring in the proficient and advanced range. This grant will allow her to replace some of the standard high school desks with more flexible seating, allowing students to have seating choices that appeal to them. 

Ms. Zelenz-Dale of Point Please Elementary School for therapeutic visual arts sessions for students with autism. This project is for the organization, Art with a Heart, Inc., to provide therapeutic visual art sessions, in small groups, to students in K-2nd grade Autism class. Instructors will provide 3 one-hour visual art sessions and all related session materials. The curriculum will be tailored to provide students with a sensory and process-based experience and adapted to meet their individual needs, specifically regarding fine motor abilities. Sessions will also incorporate mindfulness techniques to help students with attention, self-awareness, and self-regulation.

Ms. Berberian of Sunset Elementary School for narrative development. As a school-based speech-language pathologist AACPS, Ms. Berberian works with children ages 3-10 on a variety of language skills. One of the skills that many children on her caseload have difficulty with is story comprehension. This grant will help her incorporate a hands-on, kinesthetic tool to support students with story narratives. The Story Grammar Marker kit works with any existing program and it includes icon-based developmental writing maps that connect language to literacy, and fosters modeling and guided practice to help students to internalize, talk about, and write abstract narrative structures developmentally. This program is designed for students in grades two through six. Since she also works with children in Early Childhood, through the 1st Grade she is requesting an additional kit to focus on this age range to foster oral language skills for young children in talk, listening/reading, comprehension, writing/drawing, and play.

Ms. Cox of Georgetown Elementary School for Frozen, Jr. Play. Ms. Cox will take three pre-kindergarten classes to see the performance of Frozen Jr. presented by the Children's Theatre of Annapolis.

The Environmental Science Team of Meade High School for a Trip to Aquarium. The goal of the Environmental Science inquiry units is to have students learn about the Chesapeake Bay and consider their role in ensuring its preservation. One of Meade High’s main goals this school year is to invite students to hands-on field experiences outside of the classroom to develop a deeper understanding. One such trip is a visit to the National Aquarium in Baltimore to allows students to discover aquatic treasures impossible to impart through classroom instruction alone. Though the museum is free for student groups, the buses to transport students are expensive, and many students are socio-economically disadvantaged and will not otherwise have an opportunity to attend. The goal is for students to transfer their learning from the Aquarium and to consider ways in which they themselves can take action around issues in the Chesapeake Bay.

Ms. Facciponti of West Annapolis Elementary School for a sensory path. Sensory paths are a newer concept backed by research that shows how important "sensory movement breaks" are for all learners. Some students need these "breaks" to get the "wiggles" out, while others need them to help them focus, some students require sensory input due to sensory processing disorders. Sensory paths have a series of movements that help improve a child's thinking and become more aware of their own senses. They also help "unjam" neurological pathways that act as barriers to student's learning and behaviors. Sensory Paths are stickers made from durable adhesive vinyl that can be placed on the floor and walls in different configurations. These stickers incorporate a theme such as nature or space and encourage students to follow a path completing actual movements. The sensory path is 80-100 feet long, 9-10 feet wide and will be in the West Annapolis Elementary cultural arts and second-grade hallway.

Mr. Shaffer of Meade High School for a Trip to the Walters Art Museum. The Visual Art Department wants to provide more opportunities for students to study specific techniques and mediums, to evolve as artists, and expose them to art in the “real world”. To this end, they have planned a field trip for their students enrolled in the Foundations of Studio Art classes to the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore. Through the Elements of Art tour, students will not only have an opportunity to take a guided tour through specific pieces in the museum, but they will also have free access to studio time with an art educator at the museum. Though the museum is free for student groups, the buses to transport students are expensive, and many students are socio-economically disadvantaged and will not otherwise have an opportunity to attend.

In order to receive these awards, teachers completed applications detailing creative ideas to stimulate and inspire their students’ learning. Grants ranged from $225 to $500, will be used to enhance programs in all grades from pre-school to high school, and involve programs across all areas of learning from math and science to arts and languages. We congratulate all the grantees of the 2019-20 Grants 4 Teachers awards and thank all teachers for what they do to support and teach their students.




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