News and Tribune

Education/Schools

December 14, 2011

Gift of knowing: Education Foundation gives more than $21,500 to teachers

NEW ALBANY — Just before the holiday season kicked in, the New Albany-Floyd County Education Foundation did some giving of its own to local schools.

The foundation gave away more than $21,500 for its Great Classroom Projects early last month to 44 teachers in the district. The projects allow teachers to buy tools for use in their classroom for innovative learning.

Tyler Bliss, executive director for the Education Foundation, said teachers sometimes don’t have all the resources they need, so the program seeks to give them some help.

He said just about anyone in the school corporation can apply for one of the projects as long as it helps students.

“It’s open to any teacher, counselor or administrator in the New Albany-Floyd County school system,” Bliss said. “We know there are needs there, so we like to keep it very open to provide opportunities to everyone. The thing that it must do is relate to the classroom. It’s got to be in the schools and stay within the classroom setting.”

He said lots of requests come through for items such as iPads for students or iPods to help them with exercises they need to listen to, but teachers ask for a variety of items for use in classes.

“We really encourage teachers to be creative in terms of what they’re asking for to get those additional resources in to classrooms,” Bliss said. “There’s not always room in school budgets for those kinds of resources, but we want to support the public schools in New Albany-Floyd County.”

Kristi Charbonneau, a freshman English teacher at Floyd Central High School, said she knows teachers who put a lot of their own money into classrooms to help their students.  

“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much of their own money that teachers spend to help their kids,” Charbonneau said. “I’m always purchasing books and looking for sales wherever I can go. I’ve been teaching for 14 years, and I really don’t know how much money I’ve spent.”

She said with the last round of projects granted, she received $375 that she used in her READ 180 class, a program that helps accelerate students who have trouble with their reading skills.

She said the money she received would be used to get more books as well as exercises to help her students improve their reading.

“It’s a tremendous help because when a student is entered into a READ 180 class, they’re not excited about reading,” Charbonneau said. “Some of the discussion items I bought with this, they can help foster that interest in reading and relating that information you get from reading to your own life.”

Bliss said other projects, such as getting a printing press for New Albany High School’s art department, give students opportunities they might not get otherwise.

“The boundaries of what you can apply for are very open,” Bliss said. “We like for teachers to be creative, so we encourage them to think outside the box and find ways to make learning an interesting experience.”

But he said another program is coming up to help fund the Great Classroom Projects fund.

The foundation’s Grateful Hearts program gives community members the opportunity to make a monetary gift to the Education Foundation to honor teachers or any other school employee, past or present.

“I think it really relates to the holiday season because teachers often receive gifts from students, but they can’t always use that in the classroom,” Bliss said.

He said after a gift is made, the employee who is honored receives a note explaining that money was donated in their honor.

He said if anyone wants to make a donation to either program, they can find information at schools or the foundation’s website at www.nafcedfoundation.com.

Charbonneau said she’s glad a program like this exists to help teachers in NA-FC schools.

“I was just really impressed with how much money they were able to give to classrooms and the great innovative things teachers are going to be able to use that money for,” Charbonneau said.

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