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
"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
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
"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
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
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
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
"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."
The following Northside schools and their educators were
recipients of enrichment grants from the Duval Public Education
Foundation Inc. …