CMS receives PEECh grants

Published 4:35 pm Wednesday, February 27, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Several Clanton Middle School teachers were selected to receive grants from the Chilton Education Foundation this year.

Each had applied for a Partners Enhancing Education in Chilton County grant for equipment to be used in their classroom.

Casey Meank and Denise Eiland wrote a joint grant for Breakout styled-games focused on biology and anatomy.

Meank said the kits will help students think about the information they are learning in new ways and keep them interested.

Students will have to use the information to “break out of a problem,” Meank said.

“The science Breakout games benefit students in a way that is new, different and engaging,” Eiland said. “It is used to both reinforce concepts that students have already covered in class and enables them to take learning to a higher level.”

All seventh-grade students will have the opportunity to work with the kits at some point.

“I wanted this kit because it is sometimes difficult to bridge the gap between knowledge and application and this kit will help them to do that,” Eiland said.

The grant awarded to Allyson Welborn will be used to purchase iPod Touch devices to be used with virtual reality goggles purchased with another grant.

The VR devices are designed to be used with an electronic screen device, and Welborn said she was concerned that there may be students who did not have them.

She was awarded $1,000 and will purchase five devices.

The devices would be used to view Google Expeditions and Google Earth content as well as other VR apps that have educational benefits.

“We are initially trying to get started with our seventh period enrichment class,” Welborn said.

Once Welborn and the students are more familiar with what is available, she plans to incorporate the technology into her other classes as well.

She gave the example of allowing students to visit bridges throughout the world and “other architectural marvels that exist out there” using the technology.

“I’m really excited,” Welborn said.

Eighth-grade teacher Kelly Rozzelle received $624 to add books to her classroom library. Rozzelle said she has applied for and received a PEECh grant in the past. Every time she applies it is for books.

“I teach English and you can never really have enough,” Rozzelle said.

She said receiving grants helps her keep the selection up to date.

This year, she was looking to add books addressing “issues that kids face today that they can relate to, that they can identify with — see themselves in a book.”

Titles include “Beneath a Meth Moon” by Jacqueline Woodson and “Rodent” By Lisa Lawrence.

“(Both) have characters growing up in families dealing with some type of addiction,” Rozzelle said.

She also wants students who may not be facing these issues to increase their empathy to those who are by reading these books.

Some of the books on her list are award winners.

A recent book by Angie Thomas, a new favorite of her students, is also on the list.

The funding will purchase 61 books on topics such as immigration, human rights and addictions.

The books are mostly fiction, but Rozzelle will be purchasing a few nonfiction books also.

In addition to novels, Rozzelle will be purchasing graphic novels and books of poetry.

She said students use the books in the class library every day.

“I really just want them to develop that love of reading,” Rozzelle said, commenting that enjoying reading and being well-read will help students in several subject areas.

Seventh-grade language arts teacher D’ Leigh Bishop also received funds for her classroom library. The grant will be used to replace books and add new titles.

“We have books that are literally falling apart,” Bishop said.

Most of the books are fiction.

“Mostly for me it is getting them to read,” Bishop said.

The hope is that students will find a series or author that they really enjoy.

Students have about 15 minutes of independent reading and reading a book is almost the only homework Bishop gives.

She received $778 and will be purchasing 77 books. Her library is organized by genre.

PEECh grants are open to public school teachers in Chilton County.