The CTA Institute for Teaching (IFT) has selected 12 recipients - four local chapters and eight CTA members - for the inaugural IFT Mini Grant program, which supports strength-based, teacher-driven reform that improves the conditions of teaching and learning. The awards, ranging from $4,000 to $20,000, are for the 2010-11 school year. IFT received 49 grant applications, with requests totaling more than $400,000.
BLACK OAK MINE TEACHERS ASSOCIATION, $19,440. This project is a teacher-driven design to innovate and support two program changes for Northside School and for the district at large. Funds from this grant would provide training in Highly Effective Teaching and support collaborative time for teachers through professional learning communities. This project arose from a collective recognition that change must no longer be driven by external forces, but must come from within. The grant will support the belief of the school staff that a school culture should be inclusive of its community and stakeholders, be totally site-based, and be governed with informed, participatory decision making.
MT. DIABLO EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, $5,000. This project will allow the chapter to investigate the possibility of creating a dependent charter school in partnership with the Mt. Diablo Unified School District. The developmental process would be based on the belief that the school should be intellectually safe and respectful; distribute both authority and responsibility; maintain high expectations and the means to attain them. Consistent with a strength-based approach, the staff should regard students as capable and participatory beings, rich in both individual and social potential. The grant will fund first-year activities, specifically to explore community engagement and readiness for the development of a new charter school.
SWEETWATER EDUCATION ASSOCIATION, $8,200. This project is designed to develop a comprehensive literacy and technology curriculum at Sweetwater High School for use districtwide, modeled on the national Computer Science Teachers Association's K-12 model currently in use throughout the U.S. The grant, which will fund the first year of what is designed as a three-year program, will enable the program coordinator to create a core team of six qualified classroom teachers to determine and drive a curriculum guide for grades 7-12 that would allow all district schools to offer a variety of technical courses.
TEACHERS ASSOCIATION OF NORWALK-LA MIRADA, $20,000. This project works to create an affirmative career technical education/career pathway "school within a school" program at La Mirada High School. The program will prepare at-risk high school students in grades 9-11 to join postsecondary programs in environmental majors, which lead to an industry-recognized certificate, licensure, associate or baccalaureate degree, and ultimately success in the "green economy." The grant will support teacher in-service, science lab equipment and field trips.
BRIAN BARTLETT (REDLANDS), $3,956. This project will support the Pre-Engineering and Design course at Redlands High School by providing materials for four specific engineering units: mechanical, structural, aeronautical and environmental. These units actively engage students in research-based engineering design projects that incorporate problem-based learning, cooperative groups, and measurable outcomes. Student talents and strengths will be emphasized. Students will identify with the relevancy of their work and how it directly relates to a current need in our society.
KARINA CURIEL (GONZALES), $4,000. This project will provide teachers at La Gloria Elementary School with a campuswide character education program. WiseSkills is a teacher-friendly curriculum that integrates character education into all subject areas. The program provides teachers the forum to highlight and model the Six Pillars of Character (respect, citizenship, caring, trustworthiness, fairness, and responsibility). The program is consistent with IFT's Culture of Success program. The school wants an approach that focuses on positive character attributes and behaviors in order to alter a school culture that has
produced increasing levels of bullying, name calling, fighting and harassment.
RICHARD PENA (REDLANDS), $5,000. This school/community project would support Cope Middle School's curriculum-aligned school garden master plan that has, since 2003, brought together various departments, administrators, parents and community volunteers. The grant would enable a new Gardening and Building class to purchase materials to promote practical skills, creativity and hands-on learning. Because the school's goal is to increase daily attendance and decrease tardiness, students who have exhibited poor attendance will be invited to apply for admittance.
DOUGLAS REDMAN (COLLEGE OF THE DESERT), $5,000. This strength-based project involves community college automotive students in the creation of a training module. The grant will provide for the purchase of a front end clip from a late model vehicle from an auto recycler. Students will build it into a training module that will be used by every automotive instructor at the college. By building their own training module, both teachers and students will be provided with tremendous experience on "How everything works."
DIANE HUNT ROBERTS (SAN LUIS OBISPO), $5,000. This project is designed to enhance the special education services provided by staff from the County Office of Education. The grant enables the four professionals (classroom SDC teacher, speech/language pathologist, occupational therapist and adapted physical education specialist) who work with special education students to integrate their efforts. This "core" collaboration among parents, professionals and students will enable students to identify and demonstrate abilities in three main areas: focus, strength and caring.
EMILY SIMPSON (CUPERTINO), $5,000. This project centers around the development of a community garden, located on the Dilworth Elementary School campus. The garden will bring together all members of the school community and integrate various curricula in an engaging and meaningful way. It will enable the staff to supplement the science curriculum with a hands-on community building opportunity and to reinforce positive strength-based character traits, such as citizenship and responsibility. Ultimately, staff and students would like to establish a local Farmer's Market to sell produce and seeds and help sustain the continuing cost of the school garden.
CYNTHIA SOARES (GRIDLEY), $4,994. This project is to implement Conscious Discipline (CD) into six classrooms at McKinley Primary School (one kindergarten and five first-grade classrooms). The school district will be simultaneously providing parent education classes in the community in both English and Spanish. CD is an integrated social emotional intelligence and character development classroom management system based on current brain research. It is built on three strength-based principles: safety, connections and problem solving.
ALLEN TENG (SAN MARCOS), $5,000. This project is designed to emphasize student engagement and active participation in math and science at Woodland Park Middle School. Putting the school on warp speed toward the 21st century, this grant hopes to capitalize on new breakthroughs in augmented reality, which overlays digital images and information on real-world settings. The grant will be used to purchase applicable software that will enable staff to do teacher-driven experiments and demonstrations that captivate adolescent imaginations.