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On October 26, Homestead educators gathered for the presentation of nine education mini grants by the City of Homestead’s Education Committee. Vice Mayor Patricia Fairclough, the Council’s liaison to the Education Committee, opened the presentation by acknowledging the committee’s important work.
She said, “I’m proud to work with such dedicated members of our community. Their approach is very intentional as far as how they’re going to support our local schools. What they created is the local educator mini grant, which supports creativity, ingenuity and innovation in the classroom.”
These teachers “are going to be awarded funds to help spur and effectuate creativity in the classroom,” continued Vice Mayor Fairclough, who was joined by members of the Education Committee, including Kim Berkey, Chair, who announced the grant awardees. Nine grants totaling $2,500 were awarded.
Judith Nunez, a teacher at Everglades Preparatory Middle School, received a grant for “EPA Panthers Weather Out the Weather.” Through the grant, sixth-grade students will be able to utilize a 5-in-1 weather station in order to operate weather instruments to collect real time data from their school environment.
Susan Julevich, a teacher at Gateway Environmental K-8 Learning Center, received a grant for “Kid’s Corn Poppers,” a project that will allow all second graders at the school to participate in creating their own enterprise. Funds will be used to purchase a corn popper and supplies and students will sell bags of popcorn to the entire student body once a week.
Phenelope Gonzalez, a teacher at Neva King Cooper Education Center, received a grant for “Hands Across the Community,” a mural project that will involve the entire school. Students will work with teachers, families and community volunteers to create a special mural in the cafeteria.
Natalie Neiling, another teacher at Neva King Cooper Education Center, received a grant for “Seeds Are All Around Us.” The grant will allow students to create a community garden for the school, helping them learn about how to care for other living things, as well as learning about the important role plants play in the ecosystem.
Jessica Cacerano-Wheeler, a teacher at Everglades Preparatory Academy, received a grant for “Jellyfish & Gene Splicing: Teaching Bioluminescence with STEM DNA modification.” Students in the Marine Academy at this school will learn about bioluminescence, diverse marine life, genetics and DNA transformation by participating in a STEM bacterial transformation lab. Most importantly, by providing students with an opportunity to participate in the lab like this, they will be able to envision themselves working in science fields.
Armando Delgado, a teacher at Somerset Academy Charter, Middle and High School South Homestead, received a grant for “A Different Perspective!” The goal of Delgado’s photography course is for students to develop their knowledge of photography, along with the opportunity to be innovative and to communicate their ideas, thoughts and feelings to others through Art. Students will have the opportunity to exhibit their work at different school events throughout the year.
Leslie Rubio, a teacher at Somerset City Arts Conservatory, received a grant for “STEM it up! The Future is Here.” The goal of this project is to introduce 4th, 5th and 6th-grade students to the Engineering Design Process utilized for creating new inventions. The project will enhance the students’ knowledge in all STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) as well as enhance their critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Students will be asked to think of a problem in their community and then create a solution to the problem using the Engineering Design Process and STEM subject knowledge.
Carolyn McKechnie, a teacher at Homestead Senior High School, received a grant for “Discerning Disorder,” a project whose goal is to identify a task and generate the necessary steps that are required to complete a task by putting them in sequential order.
Angela Compton, a teacher at Everglades Preparatory Academy, received a grant for “Cell Type Inquiry Driven Investigations.” The grant will enable the school to purchase Carolina Inquiries in Science: Investigating Cell Types Kit, which will allow each of the five biology classes from 8th grade to high school juniors, to follow up their traditional microscopy lab with an authentic scientific investigation involving live cells.
Annually, the City of Homestead awards grants of up to $500 for educator initiatives including class projects, cultural enrichment activities, curriculum enrichment and enhancement, student initiatives (such as mentoring, student achievement and truancy), parent engagement programs and professional development that is directly aligned with educator goals and/or duties. Grants are limited to one per classroom and one per teacher per school year.