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Shawnee teacher among 37 receiving grants

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

Fund for Teachers has announced that 37 Oklahoma PreK through 12th-grade teachers have been selected for grants totaling more than $132,000 for self-designed professional development opportunities in locations around the world.

The Oklahoma grants are made possible through a partnership between the national nonprofit Fund for Teachers, the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence and the Tulsa Community Foundation. An Oklahoma Tribal Alliance, which began supporting the program last year, has expanded its support this year to help increase the Oklahoma fellowship funding to its highest level in five years. Additional funding was provided by the Stuart and Temple Foundations of Tulsa.

The Tribal Alliance is comprised of the Chickasaw Nation, Osage Nation, Cherokee Nation, Citizen-Potawatomi Nation, Choctaw Nation, Sac and Fox Nation, the Seminole Nation and the Ponca Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma. This year, grants were awarded to six tribal members representing the Citizen Potawatomi, Choctaw, Chickasaw and Cherokee tribes.

Local teachers receiving grants are:

SHAWNEE – Norma Neely teaches at Horace Mann Elementary School. She will retrace the expedition of Lewis and Clark via the Columbia and Snake Rivers to authenticate learning about the Pacific Northwest and inspire a student driven, community-wide learning event that compares and contrasts regional climate, flora and fauna, uses of natural resources and Native American groups.

STROUD – Tina Livingstone teaches at Parkview Elementary School. She will learn techniques for fostering imagination and ingenuity through the Creativity Workshop in Florence and, afterwards, explore museums there and in New York City. Her goal is to find inspiring ways to incorporate visual art into core subjects and to produce students who are inventors and problem-solvers.

CHANDLER – Pam Anderson teaches at Chandler Junior High School, and Ann Taylor teaches at Park Road Elementary School. The duo will visit Ireland and Scotland, exploring how storytelling bridges the past and present to help students develop an understanding and respect for other cultures. The project will build students’ reading, writing, and oral presentation skills and help them gain exposure to and an appreciation for their own cultural roots and diverse cultures.

Since 2002, more than 1,000 Oklahoma teachers have received Fund for Teachers grants totaling over $3.6 million. In 2006, Oklahoma became the first state in the nation to offer grants to educators statewide when the Oklahoma Foundation for Excellence joined the Fund for Teachers and the Tulsa Community Foundation as state partners. Fund for Teachers fellowships empower teachers to explore their academic passions, deepen their scholarship and enhance their craft, said Karen Eckhoff, executive director of the national nonprofit organization.

“Through experiential learning, bold experimentation and the realization of personal ambition, teachers are better equipped to impart tools and skills which serve their students far beyond the boundaries of the classroom,” Eckhoff said. “Fund for Teachers knows that good teachers become great teachers when they have the resources to explore their subject matter in the real world and translate it to their students and communities.”

Grant recipients, named Fund for Teachers Fellows, were awarded the grants after submitting proposals that explained the need for professional development opportunities to fill both teacher and student learning gaps in their classrooms. The applicants could request up to $5,000 for individual fellowships or up to $10,000 for teams of two or more. Applications are reviewed through a rigorous selection process that adheres to the Fund for Teachers scoring rubric. To eliminate bias, all applications are read without reference to teacher name, school district or demographics.

This year’s grants will be deferred to the summer of 2021 due to precautions regarding the COVID-19 global pandemic. At that time, Fellows will journey to 14 countries pursuing learning opportunities that range from professional conferences, educational tours and training, interviews, cultural experiences and much more. This year’s Oklahoma Fellows hail from 17 districts and 20 schools.

Fund for Teachers enriches the personal and professional growth of teachers by recognizing and supporting their pursuit of opportunities that have the greatest impact on their careers, classrooms and school communities. For more information about the application process, grant winners or student outcomes, visit fundforteachers.org.