By Linda Dozier, Rotary Club of Murrieta
Nine teachers in four Murrieta Valley Unified School District middle schools are starting 2014 with $4,000 in extra funds to enhance their teaching projects, thanks to the Rotary Club of Murrieta’s Teacher Grant program.
The Rotary Club invited MVUSD middle school teachers to submit requests for monetary assistance for programs that would enhance their teaching efforts. The requests, which were reviewed by a committee of the club, were judged on the basis of projects that were innovative, creative and serve the best interests of the students, that promote the values of Rotary and the school district’s overall educational curriculum, and that would have the maximum impact on the school while being sustainable.
“We received a wide variety of requests indicating the creativity and dedication of teachers who want to give their students the very best of opportunities,” said Elizabeth Nigro, who headed the Rotary’s Teacher Grant Committee. Nigro met with school district officials and decided to select from middle school projects in the current year’s program. “We were pleased with the response and only wish we could have rewarded each of the requests.”
The teachers with winning requests included:
Adam Rowland, Bryan Henning and Judy Valdivia, Warm Springs Middle School - $900 for programs which will allow the creation and editing of videos developed in a video production program/class. The students will be producing videos that can be streamed into classrooms. Students will have the opportunity to work in all aspects of video production.
Lacey Aarsvold, Warm Springs Middle School - $950 for three Samsung Chromebooks with accompanying wireless mice and headphones for use in teaching math and $400 for a laptop/tablet recharging cart. In her application, Aarsvold said the addition of the Chromebooks would allow more individualized instruction throughout the class periods. “It is very important for all middle school students to gain a firm grasp of mathematical concepts before they enter high school,” she wrote. The mobile charging cart will allow greater access to the Chromebooks which are used on a daily basis by some 200 students.
Theresa Schneider, Judith Howell and Cathleen Hansen, Thompson Middle School --$700 for Science Club’s Crime Scene Investigation project. The Science Club, which has 135 students this year, conducts an annual school-wide crime scene “incident” in which a staff member volunteers to be the victim. Working in teams, students discuss how to investigate the crime, what evidence is and what it is not. They are taught how to take fingerprints and how to manage a crime scene. The materials needed included fingerprint powder, brushes, fingerprint lifting tap, simulated blood typing kits and simulated DNA analysis. “Having them involved in cooperative groups builds respect for one another, increases listening skills, sharpens their augmentation skills and teaches them how to work positively with others,” the teachers’ application said.
Monica Farmer-Hajduk, Warm Springs Middle School - $700 for three Samsung Chromebooks with headphones to “enhance learning and educational experiences. The computers will be used before, during and after school in helping students access educational resources. More than 100 students will benefit annually from the equipment.
Lavinia Tikasingh, Shivela Middle School -- $400 for three sets of hand drums for use in the drum circle curriculum which is part of the school’s music curriculum. The 18 new drums will allow more students to play in the drum circle together, according to the request. Currently, there are groups of 36 students using the drums throughout the year, and that is expected to grow to 200 students.
In November 2013, the Rotary Club donated $7,500 to Murrieta Valley Unified School District to augment its reading intervention program for elementary school students. These grants, along with other community activities, are made possible by the Murrieta Rotary’s annual fund raising event, called Spring Fling, which is scheduled for May 10, 2014.
The Rotary Club of Murrieta was chartered on April 28, 1992. The club is involved in many community and international programs, in cooperation with Rotary International, which has as its theme "Service Above Self." Club meetings are held Mondays (excepting holidays) at noon at Richie's Diner, 40651 Murrieta Hot Springs Road, in Murrieta. For information regarding the club or membership visit www.murrietarotary.org or call President Patsy Orr, 951-693-5589.