Teachers show mini-grant projects

Warren Street Elementary School special education teacher Nadine Paul shows off a reading finger light tool to the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education Thursday night at Johnstown High School. (The Leader-Herald/Michael Anich)

JOHNSTOWN — Four teachers detailed what they did with their Johnstown Teachers Association mini-grants for the Greater Johnstown School District Board of Education last week at Johnstown High School.

PTA President Nancy Lisicki explained the teachers have recently celebrated the theme of “giving,” and the union’s mini-grants are also a way to give back to the classroom setting.

“It’s a way for the JTA to take a small portion of our dues and give it back to ourselves,” Lisicki said.

Teachers apply for small grants through the JTA and use the money to make purchases for their classrooms. Lisicki introduced the following teachers who discussed their grants:

∫ Nadine Paul, special education teacher at Warren Street Elementary School, said she used a portion of the grant for magnetic letters. She said her students are “always getting lost” reading, so she used grant funds to purchase “finger lights” that allow the students to better follow along reading.

“They can’t hear when they are making mistakes,” Paul added.

Also purchased were whisper phones so the special ed students can communicate better.

“It’s people like you that make a difference in the world,” said board President Kathy Dougherty.

∫ Kimberly Preston, Glebe Street Elementary School third grade teacher, said reading is a “huge component” of the students’ work; as is multiplication and division.

“Our goal is to really get them fluent in that,” she said.

Preston said her grant went to subscriptions to Math Facts Pro, a Wichita, Kan.-based program that helps teachers who want their students to master the basics of math. The said the program offers 50 questions per day, and students “get feedback immediately on the screen.”

“They’re excited about it,” Preston said.

In addition, some of the grant went toward hands-on math games such as multi-sided dice and foam dominos.

“I’m able to differentiate for the kids who need extra practice,” the teacher said.

∫ Linda Rusnica, family and careers teacher at Knox Junior High School, said she used her grant to conduct 22 after-school workshops with different themes. Students have worked with emoji stress balls, made gifts for Mother’s Day and made chocolates, among many activities. Rusnica said some of the lesson for students is “how to make things on a limited budget.”

She said she averages 15 to 20 kids per workshop.

“They like to try something new,” Rusnica said.

Dougherty stated: “The students are really excited about this.”

∫ Ellen Roehl, Pleasant Avenue Elementary School kindergarten teacher, said she used her mini-grant for better ways to display the children’s artwork.

“One of the things so enjoyable about children is their artwork,” she said.

Roehl said money was used for folders and ways to make the bulletin boards interactive with the artwork. The students also receive “praise notes” for their accomplishments, which are displayed on reward bulletin boards.

“Some of my students exceed the standards for kindergarten,” she said.

Michael Anich covers Johnstown and Fulton County news. He can be reached at [email protected]

By Kerry Minor

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