Excellence in Education | Grant monies support programming, technology
Special to the Sun
TAHOE/TRUCKEE, Calif. — The Excellence in Education Foundation recently presented the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District (TTUSD) with more than $120,000 in grant monies with an additional $24,000 dollars in grants to come this week.
The programs funded include the expansion of the 1:1 Chromebook program, literacy training and the “Challenge Day” character development program for both high schools.
The Foundation also funded character development curriculum, “Second Step,” which is currently being piloted at the middle schools.
In addition to these programs, funds were committed that will support the prototype design of the “21st Century Classroom” educators believe will usher in a new, more interactive way for students to learn.
“The Excellence in Education Board is excited to support the direction of TTUSD and the specific programs the staff are pursuing in an effort to enhance our students’ education,” said Laura Brown, executive director of the Excellence in Education Foundation.
The Chromebook program began this year with the eighth-grade students attending North Tahoe School and Alder Creek Middle School. The program is designed to get technology into the hands of students and integrate it into all aspects of learning. The program will expand to three additional grade levels with equal funding contributed both by the District and Excellence in Education.
A program designed to provide literacy coaching training for the District’s teaching staff was also supported through grant monies. The District’s strategic plan details the transition to California Common Core State Standards, which has a focus on literacy at all grade levels and content areas. This includes learning to read in the primary grades and literacy skills in the upper grades in reading, writing, speaking and listening.
“These funds will allow us to seek expertise and training to help all of our teachers to further incorporate literacy through research-based strategies and materials,” said Dr. Rob Leri, TTUSD superintendent. “I am extremely thankful for Excellence in Education’s assistance in this area, and it further exemplifies why we are an All-America Community.”
Recognizing students also need tools for character development, relating to emotional health and personal well-being, funds were contributed to continue support for the Challenge Day programming. Using interactive activities, Challenge Day Leaders guide participants through an exploration of how people separate from each other and create stereotypes. Leaders model tools for expressing emotion, building community and connecting as human beings. A follow-up day will give participating students the opportunity to share their thoughts.
Additionally, Excellence in Education is funding “Be the Change” instructional curriculum to incorporate the Challenge Day “spirit” into school culture.
Second Step will be taken to scale next year with the financial support of the Foundation.
The final grant monies support a 21st Century Classroom design prototype, with a District team of staff and teachers working together to create a “classroom of the future” prototype.
“Our kids are living in a connected, global community that requires inviting and flexible learning spaces. Classrooms should be highly adaptive to facilitate the creative and collaborative work they are engaged with now and in the future,” said Edward Hilton, TTUSD technology and information services director. “Partnering with Excellence in Education to research, explore and develop the TTUSD ‘Classroom of the Future’ is very exciting. The project is integral to providing the learning environments our students need.”
The “classroom of the future” could include modular furniture that can easily be moved or white boards on all four walls, allowing for spontaneous or planned brainstorming sessions.
“We’re really proud to see Dr. Leri’s vision coming to fruition. Building on projects like the Chromebook program and the 21st Century Classroom is exciting, and is encouraging our teachers and students to think differently,” said Brown.
In total, the Excellence in Education Foundation has contributed more than $290,000 during the past school year in support of educational programs. This is the largest financial contribution the Foundation has granted in a single year.
The Tahoe Truckee Excellence in Education Foundation enhances public education within the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District to strengthen the learning experience for students. For more information visit http://www.exined.org.
Jessica Weaver is an Excellence in Education board member.