Prize patrol comes bearing grants for Cape teachers

Thursday, October 10, 2013
Cape Girardeau School District assistant superintendent for academic services Sherry Copeland, left, and Cape Public Schools Foundation executive director Amy McDonald, center, surprise Diana Valleroy with a great teaching grant recipient check Wednesday at Cape Girardeau Central Middle School. The grant money will benefit 375 students including the entire sixth grade and math department. (Laura Simon)

Armed with orange and black balloons, Cape Girardeau Public School Foundation executive director Amy McDonald, superintendent James Welker and assistant superintendent for academic services Sherry Copeland made their way through the hallways of three schools Wednesday bearing gifts -- $9,654 in grants.

The prizes -- classroom teacher grants -- will be used to "enhance the education of our children," McDonald said.

Teachers apply for the grants through the foundation website, and Wednesday was prize patrol day. McDonald said four out of eight requests were granted to teams of teachers at Cape Girardeau Middle School and Franklin and Alma Schrader elementary schools.

Rebecca Gentry, a music teacher at Alma Schrader, received a $2,320 grant to hold a one-day choral festival featuring 125 to 130 students from the five elementary schools and middle school. The event is planned for 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27 at Richard D. Kinder Performance Hall at Central High School.

The conductor will be Sally Albrecht of Raleigh, N.C., a choral composer, conductor and clinician, according to the Alfred Music website.

With children playing recorders around her room, Gentry said this is the first time she has applied for a foundation grant and was surprised she got one.

"I thought today was the award date. I didn't know how it was going to be delivered, and as you can see, we were busy with other things, but I was hopeful it would work out," Gentry said.

"I think it's gong to be a great opportunity for the students to sing with students from other schools and with a nationally known conductor," she said.

Franklin fourth-grade teacher Melissa Beecham and first-grade teacher Whittney Carter plan to use the $400 they received for a venture called Books and Breakfast. "We're going to have a breakfast club once a month," Carter said, where an adult will read a story and students will discuss it. There also will be a take-home activity students can do with their families.

Carter said she and Beecham want to get families involved at Franklin and this is one way to do that. "If they know their parents care, they care," Carter said.

Diana Valleroy, a sixth-grade science and social studies teacher at Cape Girardeau Middle School, received a $3,700 grant that will be used to buy teaching materials for Common Core standards. One of her favorite items is a pair of polyhedral dice that can be used to play games to reinforce learning standards. "So it's making learning fun," she said.

Common Core State Standards are aimed at providing a consistent understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them, according to the Common Core website, www.corestandards.org. The standards also are meant to better prepare students for higher education and careers.

Valleroy was teaching math at the time she wrote the grant, so she's "handing it off" to the middle school's math teachers and she'll coordinate it. "It's always exciting to get the grant," said Valleroy, a perennial grant winner. "... I know it's going to be put to great use."

A team of English language-arts teachers at the middle school, including Laura Green, garnered a $3,234 grant that will be used to purchase cooperative learning materials to be shared schoolwide. Cooperative learning is when students must work together to complete tasks.

Green said "every child in the building" will benefit from it.

"I'm so excited," Green said. "I cannot wait to start spending it and ordering our materials. I've done a weeklong cooperative learning program through Kagan [Publishing and Professional Development] and part of what we'll be doing is providing professional development for all our teachers in cooperative learning strategies."

The Cape Girardeau Public School Foundation raises grant funds through events such as fun runs, dinners and golf tournaments. McDonald said $15,000 was budgeted for grants this year, but not many teachers applied. Some were encouraged to resubmit their requests and others didn't meet criteria.

The remaining funds may be carried over to the next round of awards, or used to fund requests that come in outside the funding window. McDonald said the foundation board also may consider having another round of applications in the spring. Ultimately, she said, the foundation's goal is to award grants in the fall and spring.

This is the first year awards were given in the fall, she said.

rcampbell@semissourian.com

388-3639

Pertinent address:

1360 Randol Ave., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

215 North Louisiana St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

1900 Thilenius St., Cape Girardeau, Mo.

Map of pertinent addresses

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