By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
JUNE 22, 2016 – Thanks to a $500 Innovative Teaching Grant, media coordinator Holly DuBois was able to send home bags filled with books for Caleb’s Creek Elementary parents to read with their children.
At Diggs-Latham Elementary School, dance teacher Amanda Stevenson used a $250 Innovative Teaching Grant to buy materials to build freestanding dance barres for students to use in her dance classes.
During the 2015-16 school year, other teachers used grant money to buy an iPod for students at Brenner Children’s Hospital to use, to build a reading corner where students could sit and read books in Spanish or English, to take students on birding adventures at Winston Lake Park and to buy Bouncy Bands, elastic bands that can be attached to desks so students can bounce away excess energy and focus on their work.
Those are just a few of the grants that enabled teachers to help students in ways that might not otherwise have been possible. The grants are sponsored by Woody Clinard and administered through the Forsyth Education Partnership. Last September, the partnership awarded 31 grants worth a total of about $16,000.
The partnership is now inviting teachers throughout Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools to submit proposals for grants that will enable them to enrich the lives of their students. Applications are being accepted through Aug. 31, and the recipients for the 2016-17 school year will be announced in September.
This is the fourth year for the grants, which go up to $500. The first two years, grants were offered only to teachers at Title I elementary schools, which are schools with a high percentage of students eligible for free and reduced-priced meals. Starting last year, all teachers were invited to apply.
The grants grew out of discussions that Susan Tague and Toby Arnold of the partnership had with Clinard about doing something to affirm teachers and to stimulate innovation.
“Woody just wants to show every teacher every ounce of support that he can,” said Tague, the partnership’s community engagement and parent involvement chair.
Clinard has said that, aside from parents, teachers can be the most important people in children’s lives and the grants are one way to recognize teachers for what they do. Clinard supports teachers and others in the school system in other ways in addition to the grants. For Old Town Elementary School, for instance, he paid to bring in a nationally recognized expert on the effects of poverty to lead a workshop.
“He really believes in education. Everything he does is to support schools,” Tague said.
At Caleb’s Creek, the grant enabled Dubois to buy about 150 books from a discount warehouse. Parents could come in, pick up a bag of books and take them home to read. They could keep the bag as long as they liked.
“This allows parents access to reading materials that they might not otherwise have as well as a great variety of materials,” DuBois wrote in her grant overview. “When they are finished reading the books, they simply bring the bag in and switch it out for another bag.”
In talking with Dubois, Karel Chandler, who is on the board of the partnership, learned that having parents pick up the books had led to some becoming more involved in the school.
“I was personally very impressed and would like to see Forsyth Education Partnership pass this along to other parents,” Chandler said.
To learn more about the partnership and to apply for an Innovative Teaching Grant, go to Forsyth Education Partnership