Since 1995, Public Education Partners has awarded over 70 grants to public schools in Aiken County, ranging from $600 to $25,000. Public Education Partners also helps schools write grants and find resources to support projects, from outdoor classrooms to computer labs.
The Board of Directors has approved five new programs for the 2001-2002 school year:
New Ellenton Middle School will implement Reading Effortlessly and Discovering. Ninety students in grades 6-8 will be impacted. This program is based on two programs previously funded by Public Education Partners at Aiken High and Aiken Middle in which students with decoding and fluency difficulties listen to audiotapes of books as they read. Students to be targeted are currently in small tutorial classes, special education and those scoring very low on the PACT reading assessment. Aiken Middle’s media specialist will help with implementation.
All 40 teachers in Jackson Middle School and New Ellenton Middle School are being trained in proper use of Reading Renaissance (Accelerated Reader). Rather than sending a few teachers to remote classes, the trainer was brought to Aiken County. All 6th, 7th and 8th graders, a total of 740 students, would be impacted. The project is unusual in that it creates a partnership between two schools with shared training and follow-up in-services. Expected outcomes are: increased number of books read, improved reading scores, changes in teaching techniques.
Ridge Spring-Monetta Elementary and Middle School will expand classroom libraries in support of this pilot site for the Four Blocks Reading Model. The District provided training, and the purpose of this grant is to put materials in the classroom that will lead to full implementation of a very successful program. The self-selected reading block requires a minimum of 500 books per classroom. In addition, faculty will read and self-engage around the book Who Moved My Cheese? in an effort to change underlying beliefs about students’ abilities to learn. All students in grades 1-8 will be impacted.
A. L. Corbett Middle School will expand the Great Leaps in Reading project begun this past year. In-service training and professional development will focus on the importance of reading in all classes. Materials for continuation and expansion (with 5 new community volunteers) of Great Leaps and training by a consultant will be provided. The school will also update the STAR reading assessment software used to track student progress. 100 6th graders will be impacted by this one-on-one intervention.
Chukker Creek Elementary School’s project will strengthen the reading component of the social studies curriculum. Incorporating Reading Renaissance (Accelerated Reader) and Four Blocks, additional books, videos and software will be purchased to allow students to experience more non-fiction reading material relating to social studies. Students in kindergarten through 5th grade (650 in all) will be impacted.
A committee made up of community volunteers and Board members reviewed the proposals. The identities of the applicants were not revealed until the recommendations were submitted to the full Board of Directors at the May, 2001 meeting. All recipients will be required to submit careful program evaluation reports and to present to the Board at the September, 2002 Board meeting. A total of $16,000 was awarded, impacting five schools and 2,350 students.
In addition to the five Basic Skills Grants listed above, Public Education Partners helped sponsor the first Summer Institute: Bridges to Our Health and Human Services Network in June. One hundred and fourteen teachers applied for the five available seats in this weeklong training. The seminar provided teachers at all levels with a broad overview and deeper understanding of the health and human services network in Aiken County and gave them the knowledge necessary to help troubled, high-risk children and adolescents and their families.