Merrillville Education Foundation funds 10 projects in schools

By: Merrillville Community Schools Last Updated: July 10, 2020

Ten grants supporting Merrillville Community School Corporation programs that encourage educational innovation, promote excellence and create educational opportunities for students were recently awarded by the Merrillville Education Foundation. The award money total $7,943.11. 

At Salk Elementary School, Technology Aide Kevin Kerr will use the funding to renew the program Classkick for teachers to use with their students. Classkick is an interactive web-based application that supports teacher creativity and classroom feedback, allowing the teachers to see each student’s screen whether they are using an iPad or Chromebook. Teachers can monitor students’ actions and provide instant feedback.

Miller Elementary School Fourth Grade Teacher Heather Barsich won grant money to purchase “Storyworks,” a print magazine with extensive digital resources to supplement the English and language arts curriculum. 

Miller Elementary School Dean of Students Toni Blaszczyk and Social Worker Nancy Fleming were awarded funding for Classroom Amygdala Stations that use sensory activities and books. The stations will teach children how to build self-awareness and effectively handle their emotions by properly utilizing the tools and strategies to help them get back into the right mindset for learning. 

In addition, Wood Elementary School Fourth Grade Teacher Morgan Vlassopoulos won funding to purchase Flocabulary, a creative, multisensory form of instruction that will benefit all students at the school, including special education and English language learners.

Flocabulary integrates with Google classroom and offers fun, engaging pedagogy that supplements teachers’ direct instruction. It can be used as an introduction to a topic, as a review, and as a formal or informal assessment.

Vlassopoulos also received a grant for her program “DynaMath for DynaPirates” for both Wood and Miller Elementary School fourth grade students. DynaMath is an offshoot of the “Scholastic News” magazine, offering high-powered math instruction that incorporates language arts standards through a combination of non-fiction reading and problem-solving practice.

DynaMath uses real-world problems to teach math, which helps students connect standards to real-life situations and offers educators another way to keep students engaged through small group, whole group, peer group work and even individualized, independent instruction.

Merrillville Intermediate School’s Nicole Perez, K-6 college and career readiness counselor, was awarded grant money for her program “Out in the Garden,” a project for students to grow their own seedlings in the classrooms and monitor their growth. 

The hands-on experience will incorporate both math and science and introduce them to careers in environmental and agricultural systems and how those careers tie-in to the vegetable gardens. 

MIS Fifth Grade Teacher Joy Kent also received funding to purchase two Qballs and covers to increase student engagement in the classroom. The Qball is a portable, throwable microphone ball made of soft durable foam. Kent will use it to help students improve and share their understanding of concepts taught and advance their social and emotional growth through interactions with peers and teachers. 

MIS Special Education Teachers Harmony Hofstra and Jeanine Harley received a grant for their “Coffee Cart” program for Autism and Intense classrooms. The program helps students develop and continue to work on their social, functional and academic skills. Students, staff and school climate will benefit from this real-world opportunity. 

Merrillville High School Robotics Team Mentor Charles Seligman won funding for the Robotics Team to replace the control system of the robots for the next season. The control system includes the replacement of the telephones, the main means of communication between the robot and the students and will give students a chance to learn how to solve complex problems at every competition. 

Lastly, Director of Media Services Janelle Bowen received a grant for building Little Free Libraries outside each of the Merrillville Schools and Central Office. Little Free Libraries are community libraries where people can take a book or share a book in the area where they live. 

MHS students will build and paint the libraries using the theme “Merrillville pride; we are all readers.” An MHS service club and MHS libraries will collect new and used books to fill them. Students as well as community members will be able to select or donate books.  

More information about these projects is available on the foundation website, merrillvilleeducationfoundation.org. Since 2002, the Merrillville Education Foundation has awarded 435 grants to teachers totaling $372,082.66.  These grants have impacted more than 119,426 education experiences for students in grades K through 12.

The foundation is committed to being the primary private sector partner in supporting public education where public funds are not available in the Merrillville Community School Corporation. 

Merrillville Education Foundation, Inc. is designated a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization, and participates in a variety of ongoing fundraising events to generate monies for grants. All donations are tax deductible.