PARK HILLS – Two St. Francois County teachers were recently awarded grants through WGU Missouri’s “Fund My Classroom” initiative.
Amy Lawson, a newly-appointed special education teacher at West County Alternative School in Park Hills, has received a $500 grant to add flexible seating to her classroom. Kaci Roper, a fifth-grade ELA teacher at North County Intermediate in Desloge, has received a $350 grant to purchase a book-binding machine. Both Lawson and Roper learned they were selected for the grants in May when they were surprised with check presentations at their schools.
Lawson has taught special needs students for 21 years and is moving this upcoming school year to West County High School, where she will be directing a program for students who are physically, emotionally, environmentally and/or mentally high-risk.
In her years of experience, she said, she has found that creating a classroom environment that feels like a comfortable home setting has allowed trauma-induced students to relax, open up or simply find an area to use self-calming techniques.
With the $500 grant Lawson received from WGU, she plans on moving beyond the traditional desk-and-chair setting and incorporate alternative seating options to provide a safe, enriching environment for students in the alternative school program setting. She said she believes that by transforming the traditional classroom, she can help increase attendance and graduation rates.
Roper plans on obtaining a book-binding machine with the grant she received from WGU, allowing young writers to take pride in their work, gain confidence and give them a sense of ownership of their written pieces.
This added resource will not only enhance the students’ writing skills but will also encourage creativity, imagination and a love for reading and writing as they become authors and illustrators, she said. It will be a valuable addition to the classroom that will be used for many future writing projects to come.
The innovative classroom projects were among 44 across Missouri chosen by WGU Missouri to receive funding. The nonprofit, fully-online university issued a call in early March for K-12 teachers across the state to nominate proposed classroom projects by April 14 for the opportunity to receive full or partial funding through its “Fund My Classroom” initiative. Nearly 200 nominations were received statewide. Most grants were awarded during Teacher Appreciation Week, which ran from May 8-12.
“This is the fifth consecutive year we have been able to offer grant funding to deserving teachers across the state through our ‘Fund My Classroom’ initiative, and we were so moved by all the nominations we received,” said Jessica Denham, regional director of WGU Missouri. “While we aren’t able to support all the projects that were nominated, we are excited to award funding to dozens of teachers who have come up with unique and innovative ways to improve their classrooms in order to promote learning and provide an enriching experience for their students.”
To learn more about the “Fund My Classroom” initiative and the work WGU Missouri is doing to help teachers advance their careers, visit missouri.wgu.edu.
WGU Missouri is a competency-based, online university created to expand access to higher education for Missouri residents. The university offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in the fields of business, K-12 teacher education, information technology, and health professions, including nursing. WGU Missouri faculty members serve as mentors, working one-on-one with students, offering guidance, support, and individualized instruction.
Established in 2013 through a partnership with nationally recognized Western Governors University, WGU Missouri is open to all qualified Missouri residents. The university is nonprofit and self-sustaining on flat-rate tuition of about $7,600 per year for most programs.
Degrees are granted under the accreditation of Western Governors University, which is accredited through the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities (NWCCU). Nursing College programs are accredited by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education (CCNE*), and the Health Informatics program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education (CAHIIM).
More information is available at missouri.wgu.edu or by calling 855-948-8493.