Education column: Education foundation helps support teachers, staff

A few years ago a handful of educators and community members had a vision to create an education foundation for additional support for teachers and staff members with innovative and creative ideas for their classrooms.

Established separate from the school district, the Clovis Municipal Schools Education Foundation was set up so that teachers and staff could write a grant to receive additional funding for those special projects or those innovative ideas outside the scope of regular available funding. With the Education Foundation beginning in 2006, the first grants were awarded in December of 2007. With each passing year growth and expansion has continued, and, to date, a total of $61,695 has been awarded.

Also, the first senior scholarships were awarded this past year, with an amount of $5,000 each for two students, one of whom is now attending University of New Mexico; the other enrolled at New Mexico State.

The great thing that all CMS Education Foundation grants have in common is that all directly impact students in a positive way. One successful program funded by a grant awarded last year — that actually touched an even larger number of students — was the “Yucca Middle School Transition Camp.”

This camp was targeted for incoming seventh-graders, designed as an opportunity to get their foot in the middle school door, accompanied by their parents, to see what middle school was all about. Activities and events were geared to give students and parents a good taste of what middle school would entail, from moving from class to class to learning procedures, expectations, the layout of the school and so forth. Of the approximately 300 incoming students, about 200 attended the “camp,” a resounding positive response.

Yucca Principal Mitzi Estes along with her staff did a follow-up survey with parents, receiving overwhelmingly positive results and feedback. Several even took the time to write to Estes, expressing gratitude and relief at how their children were no longer nervous, but actually eager to start school and particularly proud of the Yucca t-shirts they received during “camp.”

Not only was there positive response from parents and students alike, Estes noted that Yucca staff members have been noticing a distinct difference with this year’s incoming seventh-graders, attributing the improvement to the success of the “camp.” Estes and her staff are already talking about what they can do to improve the event for next year.

For any teachers or staff still thinking about applying for an Education Foundation grant, the deadline is close, but it’s not too late. All information, along with the downloadable grant application form are available on the Clovis Schools’ website at http://www.clovis-schools.org/foundation/index.html. If anyone wants to complete a grant, but would like assistance or feedback, please contact us via the email address provided here, and we can promptly put you in touch with the right individuals.

This is a once a year opportunity; don’t miss it!

Cindy Kleyn-Kennedy is the instructional technology coordinator for the Clovis Municipal Schools and can be reached at:

cindy.kleyn-kennedy@clovis-schools.org