Southern teachers receive grants

Three teachers at Southern Local Schools received 2016 Best Practice Grants from the Jefferson County Educational Service Center. JCESC Supervisor Ron Sismondo (right) is pictured after presenting $600 mini-grants to (from left) Janice Pierce, intervention specialist at Southern Local Elementary; Kimberly Adams, art teacher at SLES; and Marylou Taylor, science teacher at SLHS. (Submitted photo)

SALINEVILLE — Three Southern Local High School teachers have garnered funding to help them bolster learning in their respective classes.

Ron Sismondo, supervisor at the Jefferson County Educational Service Center, presented Best Practice Grants to high school science teacher Marylou Taylor, elementary intervention specialist Janice Pierce, and SLES art teacher Kimberly Adams during the Southern Local Board of Education meeting on Nov. 21.

The mini-grants are each worth $600 and are to be used to help enhance education through various classroom projects.

“We had 50 applications in our consortium and five were from Southern Local,” Sismondo said, adding that three were awarded.

Taylor said her portion will be used to purchase goggle sanitizer for five science classes, including biology, chemistry, physics, physical science and anatomy.

“Best Practice and Safety in the Laboratory” will benefit 220 high school students to keep them safe in a laboratory setting. Taylor said the goggles need to be sanitized between classes to prevent passing infectious diseases and offensive body fluids.

“It’s for an incubator for cleaning eyeglasses so students will stay safe between classes,” she explained. “It’s for all of our science classes. This is something we will be able to use every year.”

Taylor continued that the incubator uses ultraviolet rays in the sanitization process and the equipment will be utilized within the entire high school science department. It was the first time she applied for the mini-grant and she was pleased to obtain the funds.

“It’s going to benefit all of us. We were looking for something that would benefit the whole department.”

Pierce, who works with fourth-graders, wants to “Engage Low Level Readers” into reading more through high interest/low reading level books. Materials will be purchased and students will read books independently, to other students, and to a teacher. Upon completion of a task, students will take a short comprehension and word understanding test. The project aids roughly 19 Language Arts/intervention students.

“I wanted to get books that are written at a lower reading level, but they are still chapter books on topics they are interested in,” she said.

Pierce was excited to receive the funding to help her students.

“I’ve never applied before. It is my first year in a general classroom and this was a way to try to get a library for kids that are impacted by reading at a lower level than their peers,” Pierce said. “I appreciate (that JCESC) offers grants and it’s a wonderful opportunity.”

Adams hopes to help her art students “Take Pride” in their community by taking part in a mural project. The goal is to engage her pupils and help them understand the value of community by being an active participant in the area where they live. Students will work with an artist and transform a public place into a work of art. Adams said the group will brainstorm ideas based on community needs and collaborate in small groups and as a class to create a design.

She said the project was a once-in-a-lifetime experience that moves learning outside the classroom and into a unique working environment, while photographs and video of the project will be compiled into a mini-documentary.

“They are going to design a mural that’s going to be in Salineville,” Adams said. “It’s going to be sustaining and I’d like to do one every year. It gives them an opportunity to work alongside an artist and I wanted to get them engaged in their community.”

It was the first time Adams applied for the grant and she was ecstatic to be a recipient.

“I was excited. It meant that this project that I’ve had in my head for the last five or six years was actually going to happen. We will have lessons on community and public art so they can get ideas on what the community means to them and how it translates into art,” she continued. “We will decide a design in a collaborative effort.”

The grant will defray the cost for an experienced artist and Adams hoped to have paint supplies donated by area businesses. No designs or timelines have been established, but she was aiming for a spring start on the mural. One potential site has been eyed in

Salineville and she hopes to create more murals in the future throughout the school district. Meanwhile, the project will impact about 200 fourth-through sixth-graders at the conclusion.

Southern Local Schools have participated in the mini-grant program since the 2015-16 school year and have received a total of six funding awards of 11 applications.

JCESC has disbursed Best Practice Grants applicants representing Buckeye Local, Edison, Indian Creek, Harrison Hills, Southern Local, Steubenville, and Toronto schools, and the Utica Shale Academy.