Teachers Awarded Grants through the El Dorado Education Foundation

Nine new Fall 2019 teacher grants have been awarded for El Dorado Public School District teachers by the El Dorado Education Foundation (EDEF), thanks to the approval of its Board of Directors. 

Since 1997, a total of 264 proposals have been approved for educators in the district. Proposals are judged anonymously by a committee from the School of Education at Southern Arkansas University (SAU) in Magnolia. EDEF Fall 2019 teacher grants include the following:

1.           “Creating a Reality Beyond the Expected” - Katie Harwell – EHS. Approximately 188 9-12th graders. Art & Literacy.  

This project will provide the visual art department with an exciting new way to serve the local community and incorporate literacy. Students will use visual art concepts like complementary colors, positive/negative space, and contrast, to show that opposites are stronger together. To illustrate the theme, weaving, prints, paintings, and notecards will be created. Some of the artwork will be donated to public locations. Writing and artist statements will trace processes and describe artistic intent. In the spring, an art show will be held to share work with the public. This project will demonstrate to students that hard work can benefit and inspire their community.  

2.           “Creative Exploration of Identity and Community” - Julia “Nikki” Gamble – EHS. Approximately 200 10th graders. English.

This project seeks to provide students with opportunities to express themselves creatively. In the fall semester, students will explore the concept of identity. They will meet with local artists, participate in a creative music workshop, and produce a joint project expressing their identities. In the spring, the focus will shift to community. Through the lens of literature, students will study how communities can become united. During a visit to Grambling State University (GSU), they will be introduced to various performing arts groups, as well as exploring the campus as a community. Students will come together to express themes of community, and will share public presentations for the school and broader area.

3.           “Makerspace Lab” - Alexa Inman – Barton. Approximately 320 7-8th graders. Library Media Studies, plus Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, & Math (STEAM).

This project will create a designated Makerspace in the school library. Equipment, materials, and supplies will establish a Makerspace Lab. The lab will provide students with an area where they can create, problem-solve, and think critically. It will provide opportunities for students develop increased confidence and persistence in academic endeavors. In projects, they will be able to consider various approaches and troubleshoot to find solutions.  They will discover, learn informally, and find new passions. At the Makerspace, they will find a fun area in which to brainstorm, experiment, create, and collaborate.   

4.           “Take a Closer Look” - Chrystal Gilkey – Yocum. Approximately 350 K-4th graders. Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM).

The purpose of this project is to begin exposing kindergartners to key STEM subjects as early as possible. By using age-appropriate, digital microscopes called Easi-Scopes, they will have opportunities for beginning computer science concepts, via exploring mechanics and details of the world around them. At an early age, students will be able to grasp early computational thinking connections such as pattern recognition and algorithms. They will increase visual-spatial skills and build confidence in using science technology. 

5.           “Get Growing! Cultivating a Farm to School Garden”  - Joely Jackson – Hugh Goodwin. Approximately 500 K-4th graders. Science, Math, Social Studies, Arkansas History, Literacy, Physical Education, & Health.   

This project will introduce farm-to-school gardening concepts by students planting fruits, vegetables, and pollinator plants. They will study life cycles by raising a flock of chickens at the school’s chicken coop. Additionally, students will harvest the crops and prepare food from the garden. It will be a hands-on, active approach to learning. They will learn about gardening, plant growth, soil testing, data analysis, measurement, and weather. National Farm to School Month will be celebrated. Along with other school and district staff, the Coordinated School Health Coordinator will be actively involved in this project. Volunteers from the community also will be included. 

6.           “Reflex Your Math Muscles” - Dorinda Stephens – Washington Middle School. Approximately 100 5-6 graders. Math. 

The major goal of this project is to develop more-proficient math skills in a diverse group of students, through use of a proven successful program, Reflex Math, which will help them establish and make gains. By using this licensed computer program, which includes individualized learning and high-interest games to supplement teachers’ classroom lessons, students will build greater confidence, fluency, and automaticity in math, while allowing them to have fun while learning. 

7.           “Tech to Reflex Your Math Muscles” - Dorinda Stephens – Washington Middle School. Approximately 100 5-6 graders. Math. 

This project provides technical equipment at the school site to implement the licensed supplementary math program called Reflex Math. It is designed to help develop skills with a diverse group of students, to exhibit greater mastery and to become more proficient. Equipment in this project will include specially-designated Chromebooks, licensing, headphones, and a cart. Students with individualized skills targets will supplement classroom teaching to perform at higher levels.  

8.           “Travel Helps Educational Attainment and Future Success” - Robert Kloap – EHS and Barton. Approximately 100 8-12th graders. Music – Band. 

The El Dorado High School (EHS) Band has been invited to participate in the 2020 National Memorial Day Parade in Washington, DC (May 21-27, 2020). The band will represent the school, community, and the state of Arkansas. They will be performing on the world stage. The event will be televised by Discovery Military Channel and the United States Armed Forces Network. Other fundraising efforts also will be included for this project. 

9.           “Read for the Record X” – Literacy project - Jeannie Strother. Hugh Goodwin, Northwest, Retta Brown, Yocum, & Yocum Primary. Approximately 1,500 K-4th graders. Literacy. 

Read for the Record X will take place on Thursday, November 7, at all of the elementary schools. Approximately 1,500 students in grades K-4 will read the book, Thank You, Omu!, by Oge Mora. El Dorado students will join with millions of others by reading the same book on the same day. At each school, a local celebrity reader may be featured, along with special elementary school artwork. Each student in grades K-2 will receive a copy of the book, while those in grades 3-4 receive other materials for participation.

Tax-deductible donations are welcome for all present and future EDEF El Dorado Public School District projects. EDEF Board members are: President Claiborne Deming, Vice President Alice Mahony, Secretary Walter Compton, Treasurer Charlie Thomas, Elaine Deming, Elise Drake, Carol Felton, Don Wales, Sherrel Johnson, and Margy Niel.