Every year the five finalists for Duval County Teacher of the Year receive a grant from the Rotary Clubs of Duval County. Having recently celebrated the 2013 Teachers of the Year, we thought we would check in with last year's finalists and find out how they used their Rotary Grants.
Scott Sowell (2012 Duval County Teacher of the Year)
Darnell Cookman Middle/Senior High
Mr. Sowell used his $1,000 Rotary grant to purchase aquarium supplies, including live fish and plants, to study algal blooms in his AP Environmental Science course. Students created individual farms in bottles and tested nutrient levels in the soil and water and analyzed the connections between agricultural practices and water quality, an issue that is relevant to Jacksonville and the St. John's River. In this unit, Mr. Sowell challenged his students to grow the largest and healthiest plants possible without harming the water quality in their bottle farms.
Christy Constande (2012 Finalist)
Chets Creek Elementary
Ms. Constande applied her $1,000 grant to a variety of initiatives. She purchased four backpacks through Blessings in a Backpack, a program that provides food to children on weekends. Ms. Constands also purchased an easel for the McKenzie Academic Resource Center, which provides after-school tutoring, early childhood activities, and English classes to the lowest socio-economic population in the Portside neighborhood. Working with Scholastic, Ms. Constande was able to arrange for each of her forty-four ELA students to spend $8 at the Bookfair. "For some friends, that was their first time picking out a new book or two to own." Finally, Ms. Constande purchased a bookcase and chairs for her classroom library.
Cynthia Fitch (2012 Finalist)
Oak Hill Elementary
Ms. Fitch used her $1,000 grant to ensure her students had the supplies they needed, from composition books and pencils to scissors and glue. As a Math teacher, Ms. Fitch found that Snickers and Skittles make great manipulatives for "100s in Math" as well as rewards for random acts of kindness. "Having the resources to acknowledge appropriate and positive behavior is one of the most powerful tools that I have. When a child picks up a pencil that has been dropped, a paper that has slid off a desk, or when a door is helped or a helping hand has been offered, that display of positive behavior needs to be recognized and reinforced."