Today’s classroom teachers use a variety of tools to educate children, but due to lack of sufficient funding, many find new technology items out of reach. TRTF’s Classroom Assistance Grant program helps teachers improve the learning environment for students by giving $500 towards projects, learning platforms, software, and much more.
Since 2008, TRTF has provided $93,000 in grants to 186 active educators all across Texas.
Donna Magjarevich, a dyslexia teacher at Selman Intermediate in Sealy, says that “the state of Texas mandates that a school district have a dyslexia program...but it does not allot any funding for this service.”
In 2016, she won a $500 grant from TRTF, using the money to purchase Really Great Reading Phonics. The program provides a set of tools to diagnose, group, and teach students with weaknesses in their foundational reading skills.
Donna feels the program is ideal for students growing up in a technological age, and is excited that her school’s dyslexia program will be updated for the first time in 20 years. Her students will not only improve their reading accuracy and rate, but also their use of electronic mediums to communicate.
Joel Yelton, an Industrial Technology teacher at Cypress Ridge High School in Houston, also won a grant. Mr. Yelton and his students will use the $500 to purchase materials to build a tiny house. Mr. Yelton is no stranger to taking on ambitious projects, such as building custom cars, and finds that combining “theories and concepts with real world applications” gives relevancy to his students’ education.
“Harder, more complex projects give my students a real sense of purpose,” says Joel. With 65 percent of students at Cypress Ridge qualifying for free and reduced lunch, he acknowledges that many experience financial distress. “I believe that my job is to give them the most I can with whatever materials I have.” He also wants the lessons they learn to be twofold, especially when it concerns the value of time and money: “there are people out there who are willing to help, but inevitably we make our own way.”
Laura Vrana teaches first grade at Jefferson Avenue Elementary in Seguin. Like most schools that receive grants from TRTF, Jefferson is a Title I school. Laura says “the school is always looking for new ways to encourage and provide opportunities to enhance academic achievement among these disadvantaged children. A strong academic foundation goes hand–in–hand with a strong social and emotional one.”
The Jefferson Garden Club is one result of this philosophy, and Ms. Vrana
has seen how participation in the club teaches responsibility, organizational skills and persistence. The students learn about nutrition, where food comes from and how to care for their environment, all important facets of their well–being now and in the future. The club exceeds 90 students in grades one through five. Laura was able to purchase fruit trees, rose bushes, seeds and soil for this year’s spring garden.
TRTF will continue to support current classroom teachers by providing fifteen $500 grants for innovative projects and learning platforms in the coming year. Your donations help students develop real-world skills, and provides them with a caring, creative community to explore their future!