Students Offered Enriching Curricula

Article excerpt

For the next six months, some students at Highlands Middle

School will be writing books.

Thanks to a $500 enrichment grant, the young authors will use a

new computer program called "Easy Book" to write poetry, a

bibliography, fiction or a biography.

The exercise will be a creative way to improve their writing

skills and inspire them to read, said Juanita Taylor, who

specializes in teaching youths who may be prone to quit school.

Taylor said the books should be completed before the school year

ends.

"From this point on, when a teacher says to them: `You have to

read a book,' the students can say: `I wrote one,' " Taylor

said. "They will gain skills that will help them with their

writing skills for the `Florida Writes' test."

Highlands Middle was among the 23 Northside schools that

received grants this year from the Duval Public Education

Foundation Inc. A total of 65 Duval County schools received

grants.

The non-profit organization awarded more than $57,000 to 118

educators who developed innovative programs, such as "Easy

Book," and creative teaching methods for more than 29,000

students.

"Rewarding good teachers for good ideas is key to the

grassroots reform of education," said Mary M. Grimm, the

foundation's executive director.

"These grants emphasize programs that enrich the lives of

students, enhance the curriculum being taught in the classroom

and encourage partnership within the business community in Duval

County."

For eight years, the foundation has awarded the grants based on

funding received from businesses and community sponsors such as

SunTrust Banks Inc. and Anheuser-Busch Inc.

This year, teachers throughout Duval County received grants

ranging from $300 to $1,000. Companies such as Maxwell House and

Continental Cablevision awarded $1,000 grants to specialized

programs.

One of those programs is being offered at Moncrief Elementary.

Rosemary Nowotny, school improvement facilitator at Moncrief

who works with college interns, received a $1,000 grant for her

program, "Africa's Gift to America."

Nowotny will hire consultant and educator Carol Alexander to

produce and direct a theatrical production that highlights the

influences of African culture and contributions of

African-Americans in the United States.

"Students will be asked to make a six-week commitment focusing

on African heritage, language, music, dance and art," Nowotny

said. "The production will be complete with costumes, makeup and

props to showcase the roles that AfricanAmericans have played in

the development of world civilization and the growth of the

United States."

At R.L. Brown Elementary, Betty Marshall received a $494 grant

to teach her students, who are considered slow learners, how to

make quilts from old pieces of geometric-shaped fabrics.

The students will donate the quilts to the elderly and to the

pediatrics ward at University Medical Center.

Marshall said the program is in its second year and helps boost

students' self-esteem, in addition to providing them with

vocational experience.

"Some people tell them they are crazy, stupid and dumb," said

Marshall, who teaches first-, secondand third-graders. "This

will make them feel good about themselves. This is actually

something they can see that they've done."

GRANT RECIPIENTS

The following Northside schools and their educators were

recipients of enrichment grants from the Duval Public Education

Foundation Inc. …