YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (Nov. 13, 2017) – As a music teacher in the Campbell City Schools, Dan Welch has a lot to do each day. There are paperwork deadlines, testing mandates and he, like all educators today, has to compete for the attention and motivation of his students against the powerful draw of social media and tiny screens.
“But, in between the forms that are due, that testing window, and the moments our students are not thinking about their messages that await them on their favorite social media app, are windows of opportunity to provide meaningful instruction and learning,” Welch said. For Welch, who has been teaching since 2008, the challenges in the classroom are always worth the price for those moments of learning.
Welch has developed a new instrumental program for second and third grades at Campbell Elementary School using the “pBuzz,” a small and lightweight instrument designed for young children.
The “pBuzz” program is one of 11 projects to be awarded funding from the Turning Foundation as part of its “Innovative Teacher Mini Grant” program.
Welch and 10 other teachers from Ashtabula, Columbiana, Mahoning and Trumbull counties are receiving grants of up to $5,000 from The Turning Foundation, a not-for-profit arm of Turning Technologies.
The Turning Foundation is committed to supporting teachers like Welch who are trying different ways to reach students. “We believe that teachers sometimes need a few extra tools or a little additional support to engage and challenge their students. We are thrilled to be able to offer these mini grants to further innovation in classrooms,” said John Wilson, director of the Turning Foundation.
The Innovative Teacher Mini Grant program, in its eighth year, receives funding support from The Raymond John Wean Foundation. Eastern Ohio Education Partnership, EOEP, is also a partner for the Innovative Teacher Mini Grant program, offering programmatic guidance.
A total of $50,152 was awarded this year for projects whose goals range from improving reading to fostering a deeper appreciation of music. The strategies the teachers will use for achieving goals are equally diverse and include harnessing technology, using musical instruments and fostering school-wide conversations.
The 11 were selected from among 50 applications for projects in one of four areas: early childhood education, third grade reading improvement, eighth grade mathematics and postsecondary/career readiness.
These four areas are also the focus of EOEP. Stephanie Shaw, director of EOEP, explained the importance, “Research has shown that if we can make improvements in these four areas, we can change children’s educations and lives for the better.”
Shaw continued, “That’s why it’s such an honor for us to partner with Turning Foundation and The Raymond John Wean Foundation for a program that encourages teachers to think differently and to come up with projects they can actually implement and then share with others.”
Wilson said Turning Foundation, EOEP and The Raymond John Wean Foundation share an interest in connecting creative and innovative processes with student achievement and school improvement.
“Through these grants, we are also seeking to develop partnerships between schools or classrooms and business and industry and the community,” Wilson said. “We believe that we are planting important seeds and look forward to seeing how they grow.”
Jennifer Roller, president of The Raymond John Wean Foundation, said the Foundation is extremely interested in supporting work that fosters collaboration and harnesses innovation and technology to power learning. “We are thrilled to be able to play a small role in supporting teachers who are trying new strategies and tools for reaching their students,” Roller said. “We know that these teachers will inspire others.”
Winners of the Innovative Teacher Mini Grant for 2017-2018 school year are:
- Tracy Archuleta, Jefferson Senior High School, Jefferson Local Schools, for a program to improve students’ postsecondary and career readiness by creating a makerspace for students to use design thinking with project-based learning.
- Fran Compton, Willard PK-8, Warren City Schools, for a program to increase third-grade reading scores by encouraging among first graders a deeper understanding of science through hands-on and minds-on activities.
- Quiana Faison, Chaney High School, Youngstown City Schools, for a program to improve students’ postsecondary and career readiness by implementing Grooming University to teach young male students about such issues as financial investments, money management, personal grooming, social etiquette, situational attire, interview training, as well as physical and mental health initiatives.
- Stephanie Greathouse, Rayen Early College Intermediate School, Youngstown City Schools, for a program to improve eighth grade math proficiency, by designing, programming and building “Mars Roverbots.”
- Sarah Lowe, Beaver Local Middle School, Beaver Local Schools, for a project to improve eighth-grade math by integrating STEM and hands-on activities into each learning experience.
- Marian Mihas, Jefferson & Lincoln PK-8, Warren City Schools, for a program to improve students’ postsecondary and career readiness by combining two ukulele orchestras in a series of performances.
- Maria Pappas, Wilson Elementary, Youngstown City Schools, for a program to increase third-grade reading scores through a school and community project with an author and illustrator in residence and writing workshops and projects.
- Jill Redmond, McGuffey PK-8, Warren City Schools, for a program to improve students’ postsecondary and career readiness by exposing them to fitness and wellness careers.
- Amanda Signor, Wilson Elementary, Youngstown City Schools, for a program to increase third-grade reading scores by having a whole school read the same book and engage in a group activity.
- Gwen Weikart, McKinley Elementary, Lisbon Exempted Village Schools, for project to increase third-grade reading scores by using “decodable readers.”
- Dan Welch, Campbell Elementary & Middle School, Campbell City School District, for a project to increase third-grade reading scores by using the “pBuzz” music program.