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Optimist Club grants $28k to parish teachers

Amanda Simmons

The Bossier Optimist Club has once again lived up to its continued commitment to be a ‘Friend of Youth’ by awarding $28,500 in grant money to 14 Bossier Parish teachers for classroom enhancements and increased student engagement.

The program got its start in 1988 when the daughter of Bossier Optimist Club member Al Yantis asked if the civic organization would help fund a set of books for her Bossier Parish classroom. Since then, the Bossier Optimist Club has handed out grants to Bossier teachers totaling more than $430,000.

Each week, the Bossier Optimist Club works Bingo games to raise money specifically to award these grants.

This year, 65 grant applications were submitted before a judging panel narrowed it to 10 winning projects. They vary in scope, from integrating 3-D technology to make mathematics meaningful to taking students on virtual field trips via Google Expedition Kits to develop reading and writing skills.

Recipients of this year’s Bossier Optimist Club grants are:

Angie Bellotte, Cope Middle – This project will incorporate technology to real world objects through the transmission of electricity and the creation of current to devices (content/Physical Science & STEM).

Lisa Neuman, R.V. Kerr Elementary – This project will integrate technology using Reading Eggs and Reading EGGspress to raise student performance using Tier I and Tier II support interventions with instruction in whole group, small group and RtI grouping.

John Kendrick, Elm Grove Middle – This project will allow students to visualize and experience mathematics using technology to create designs and apply Geometry and Algebra I through meaningful context and 3-D projects.

Amanda Henderson and Stephanie Kennon, Sun City Elementary – The project will integrate technology through personalized digital lessons of math and science with cross-curricular student activities.

Renee Pilcher and Jaimee Mercer, Stockwell Place Elementary – The project will ensure student engagement and provide positive feedback to teachers through the creation of power points and assessments to gauge learning by integrating the use of Chromebooks and student centered activities.

Yvonne Barrier and Melinda Brewster, Cope Middle – The project will provide grammar and writing lessons to support all students and their academic levels to ensure success in the classroom with immediate and meaningful feedback on writing projects and performance without the use of “red ink!”

Angel Collins, Central Park Elementary – The project will integrate ELA and Social Studies through the development of student project-based learning lessons. Students will be exposed to various cultural experiences through historical events recreated/reenacted in the classroom.

Amanda Dickey and Sarah Brown, Princeton Elementary – The project will employ instruction of academic vocabulary and reading comprehension resulting in higher student assessment scores where students will analyze meaningful text and word patterns/origins to develop rigorous skills in creative writing and solutions to prompts/inquiries of specific passages or other readings.

Rachel Valentine, Benton Middle – The project will integrate Google Expedition Kits for students to experience virtual field trips in the classroom. Students will personally experience past and present scenarios while developing reading and writing skills through visual applications.

Andrea May, Bossier Elementary – The project will integrate the use of technology using Chromebooks to further lessons in reading, research and the use of informational resources and using assessments to gauge student performance.

Bossier Schools Superintendent Scott Smith said each winning project is an example of the inspiration, imagination and innovation he sees in classrooms throughout the district.

“I can see why the Bossier School system does as well as it does,” Smith said. “It’s because of our teachers and principals and what they do on a daily basis for our students. Also, for an organization like the Optimist Club, you put your money where your mouth is. You have always done that and I have always appreciated that.”

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