Foundation grants awards on 7 BISD campuses

Dishman Elementary teacher Kelli Meredith and students show excitement

The Beaumont Public Schools Foundation (BPSF) grant caravan stopped at seven Beaumont Independent School District campuses Dec. 1 to make teachers’ and students’ wishes come true with hands-on educational tools that inspire creative learning in the classroom.

Members and friends of the foundation rode out with the BPSF Grant Caravan bus Friday to drop off the learning tools requested, and to present winning educators with glass apples in recognition of their dedication to academic excellence.

Dishman Elementary School teacher Kelli Meredith and her students received a welcome visit from the grant caravan. BPSF brought Meredith educational board games because, according to the title of her project, “First Graders Don’t Know How to Play Board Games.”

Meredith smiled and clapped her hands when she saw the BPSF crew, and the first graders cheered gleefully upon seeing the newest additions to their educational armory.

Meredith said through years of educating students, she has noticed they do not often play board games, which she says can teach a number of skills.

“They like to cheat. They don’t always take turns. It’s hard to know the directions sometimes. And these games cover every math objective for first grade,” she said.

Meredith said she has utilized the Math Power Learning Center board games at another school where she previously worked, so she is familiar with the subject matter they address. She feels the games will teach students to better work independently and in small groups.

“I really believe in station learning, where I have groups working at different stations,” she described. “Table 2 could be over here working with shapes, while Table 3 could be at the computers. … That helps me to work with smaller groups.

“Looking at the dice and knowing a five is a five, that’s one of their objectives – to be able to recognize the number of dots on the die. And these games are really fun.”

“We need these games so much because they are really going to help us,” Meredith told her students.

Alanna Jacobs of West Brook High School requested copies of the novel “Thank You for Arguing” by Jay Heinrichs for the “Future Rhetoricians” in her junior-level class. Her project goal is to increase the students’ political and media awareness and lead them to become “well-rounded, informed” citizens.

“The basis is teaching kids to question and to figure out when they are being told the truth and when they are being told something other than the truth,” Jacobs said. “I read this over the summer knowing I was going to teach (rhetoric) again for the first time in five years. I knew I wanted something relevant, something the kids could relate to. This guy’s book is right on target. It uses rhetorical terms. It teaches them skills. It teaches arguments. And I really think they will enjoy it. In this day and age, we need educated students to make positive political decisions.”

At Marshall Middle School, students Roadie and Speed Rasa applied for a grant for their “Curious Eyes” project. The BPSF award provided the pair with a stereomicroscope to give them a much closer look at “weird organisms and weird critters” like plants, beetles, roly-polys and growing slime. The stereomicroscope reflects light from the surface of an object rather than through it, making it easier for students to view solid objects that cannot be placed on a slide.

Fehl-Price Elementary School teacher Elaine Schumacher requested robots to help educate her students in “Computer Coding.” Students from kindergarten through fifth grade will learn programming/coding, problem solving, logic, math, spelling and critical thinking when working with Osmo and Dash robots.

BISD staff Michael Black of Marshall Middle School, Joy Schwartz of the BISD STEM Center/Central High School, Karen Neild of the Taylor Career Center and Wendy Richard of Fletcher Elementary also received grants for interesting educational tools during the fall grant caravan.

The BPSF was founded in 1993 by Beaumont ISD Superintendent Dr. Jerry Mallett, whose vision was to create a foundation that would support teachers and students in the district by funding innovative learning projects and other educational opportunities. More than 20 years later, the organization continues that mission, primarily focusing on collecting and dispersing funds for creative classroom projects. The grants caravan visits local campuses twice a year, once each semester, to surprise teachers and students with their awards. Since its inception, the nonprofit has awarded 382 applicants with grants amounting to $269,350.21 and has provided 101 scholarships totaling $66,500 to Beaumont ISD students.