Archive for Monday, March 7, 2011

First Bell: Schwegler teacher wins grant from NEA Foundation, Nickelodeon; local grant to finance e-books for district; teacher evaluations up for negotiations

March 7, 2011


A few education-oriented items from around the area:

A teacher at Schwegler School is getting a big hand from Nickelodeon’s “The Big Help.”

Sondra “Sandy” Groene recently received a $5,000 Student Achievement Grant from the NEA Foundation, awarded in collaboration and with support from Nickelodeon, the network whose program — “The Big Help” — works to connect kids with issues considered important in their lives.

Groene’s grant will allow her, working with Schwegler resource teacher Ryan Ellett, to take students to Kansas’ Tallgrass Prairie, where they will work to understand the historic and cultural importance of the ecosystem.

“The project will enable students to engage in community learning while discovering the relevance of local geography,” the NEA Foundation said, in announcing the award Friday afternoon. “After visiting the prairie, students will create a large prairie mural that will be shared with the community.”

The program awarded 50 grants in 33 states, for a total of $211,000. Winners were selected based on the quality of their proposed ideas and the projects’ potential for enhancing student achievement.


More good news from the grants world for Schwegler, and the entire Lawrence school district:

The Boys & Girls Club of Lawrence received a $10,000 grant from the Douglas County Community Foundation, and has plans to use grant money to expand the club's after-school program at Schwegler, 2201 Ousdahl Road.

The foundation also approved a $5,000 grant for the Lawrence Schools Foundation to finance the purchase of electronic books

The e-books grant will purchase 415 popular titles — for the district’s central library, for struggling and/or reluctant readers, as well as the district’s English Language Learner students — that will provide fiction and nonfiction works for every grade level in the district, said Susan Esau, the schools foundation’s executive director.

Esau said that titles would be purchased and added to the district soon, so that students could begin to “enjoy these resources and take advantage of combining technology with reading.”


Teachers and administrators in the Lawrence school district have entered negotiations for a new “master agreement” governing pay, working conditions, performance evaluations and other matters for the 2011-12 school year.

One topic — teacher evaluations — is among the issues administrators have said they want to negotiate during the coming weeks. A committee of teachers and administrators have been working for a couple of years to come up with improvements to the system, said Frank Harwood, the district’s chief operations officer.

That’s about all I know about the process, at least for now. But I did a quick search for information regarding evaluations elsewhere, and came across this article from New Jersey. Sounds like there’s talk of considering major changes there.

Anyway, here’s the link to that story. Like I said, I’m not all that familiar with how teachers are evaluated here or how evaluations would change under recommendations from the district’s own committee, but I’m sure educators and others have plenty of ideas.

District administrators and teachers are scheduled to discuss evaluations during their next negotiating session, set for 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. March 30. I’ll be following the discussion, no matter where it leads.

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