Mat-Su Schools Foundation
         Quality in Education...

2021 First Student Teacher Grants Recipients

Snowshoe Club! A Winter Club that can be held outside.
Meadow Lakes has a fantastic Cross-country and Track Club/Team. Cross-country takes place in the fall and Track in the Spring leaving their outdoor winter lovers with no outdoor sport. Students will build muscle and learn to hike with a group. The grant money will allow Meadow Lakes Elementary School to purchase snowshoes for their Snowshoe Club.

Fire It Up! Fronteras Kiln Repair
Fronteras Spanish Immersion Charter School has an electric kiln for firing clay that is currently not functioning. The kiln is needed to fire clay. Firing is a necessary step in the clay process, it allows students to make both sculptural work and functional pieces like bowls and mugs they can take home and use. The grant will allow Fronteras to purchase new heating elements inside the kiln need to be replaced.

Clay gives even beginning art students a sense of control over their work. Whether it is the sensory response to the clay, the ability to be in charge of the medium, or the ability to express and articulate their emotions and ideas through the physical shaping or smoothing of the clay, all kids, even those with high activity levels, become engaged and engrossed in their work. Manipulating clay builds hand strength and dexterity. Clay asks to be poked, pinched, twisted and rolled and as they handle it, children develop both fine and gross motor skills.

Motor Development in the Early Years
Many Kindergarten students start school with poor motor development. This lack of skills can impact a student both academically as well as socially. Under the current guidelines, students may only receive Occupational or Physical Therapy (OT/PT) services in the school if they also qualify for other special education services. As a result, many students who need additional support in motor development are not receiving the outside services they may need. As with all areas of early childhood education, early intervention is crucial.

The goal of this project is to create frequent, intentional opportunities for students to engage in motor development activities. These activities will help students practice crossing the midline, increase balance and coordination, develop hand-eye coordination, improve hand strength and pincer grasp as well as other motor skills crucial to early childhood development. Melissa has worked with both the OT and PT specialists in her building to choose tools and activities to meet the motor development needs of all students.

This grant for purchasing the tools recommend by the OT/PT specialists, approximately 130 Kindergarten students in her building will have improved access and opportunities for motor development.

Social Emotional Learning and Team Building
As a school counselor and SEL teacher, I would like to teach guidance lessons in our K-5 classrooms to support SEL standards. I would use STEAM type lessons/projects to promote team building and SEL growth in students. (STEAM is an educational approach to learning that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, )

A few of the activities I would include in the lessons would engage students in playing a board game, age appropriate literature, directed drawings, choose your own adventure book making, designing and building a sledding course, using homemade playdough to build and create individually and with peers. Kristy will use the grant funds to buy supplies for students to participate in the team building SEL lessons.

Sensory Wall for regulation of behaviors, emotions, sensory needs, and communication.
In the RISE classroom, students are encouraged to regulate their sensory input and output through various strategies (gross motor, fine motor, breathing, calming, push/pull, etc.). In order to encourage our students to find ways to identify their needs, we allow students to take breaks through the use of our Break/Quiet area (also known as a Calming Corner). I would like to turn our Break/Quiet area into a space where students can relax, move, and touch then return to the classroom activity. Sensory Regulation is a driving force for successful learning in the RISE Program.

Sensory Path
A sensory path is a path designed by OT/PT and Autism experts to help children who need a brain break. The path is made from adhesive materials that are designed to stay on floors and walls in a school building. Sensory paths were designed to utilize a series of movements that help decrease behavior while increasing cognition. Since the pandemic shutdown the school has been seeing an increase in behaviors. Having a place for students to quickly get a brain break throughout the day will have a positive impact on our students academic growth.

Alternative Seating Grant
Unlike traditional wobble chairs, which take up space and have to be switched out if students no longer want to use one, we found chair cups that attach to the bottom of an existing chair and allow the chair to move in all directions without tipping over. Sarah bought one to test it out, and it has worked very well. In addition, She still finds sitting at circle to be very valuable for her class discussions and whole class work. As second graders, our bodies are bigger and we struggle to manage personal space on the carpet. From the same website, we found seat cushions that will not only allow us to move appropriately on carpet but it will further define our personal space to avoid any confrontations with others. Grant funds will be used to purchase chair cups and cushions to help manage our energy and stress to learn more successfully. By taking care of our social, emotional and physical needs, we will be able to demonstrate our abilities and growth academically!