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Rotary grants help teachers adapt lessons

Local teachers were able to purchase computer programs, digital equipment and prizes to help their students embrace online learning thanks to the Rotary Club of Boulder City’s annual mini-grant program.

Each year the club awards up to $7,000 to help local educators purchase resources for their classrooms. This year’s grants helped 10 teachers who were trying to be creative with distance learning.

“I am very grateful for the generous contribution that the Rotary club has provided. … The funds have been used for enhanced technology, books for students’ personal use, as well as (a) digital curriculum,” said Mitchell Elementary School teacher Liesel Morris, who has self-contained special education classroom.

She said the equipment has boosted her students’ engagement and enriched the classroom experience.

Garrett Junior High School teacher Amy Doyle also has a self-contained special education class where she teaches students who are all on different educational levels. She applied for a $270 grant to buy a curriculum and camera so she could individualize her students’ lessons and be more interactive with them.

“The document camera allows me to show an actual worksheet and working out problems by hand,” she said. “Sometimes ‘showing’ the work on a computer-made assignment is hard to teach the full concept. I can even record the steps to attach the video to their Google classroom for reference later if they forget. The Rotary has been a true blessing to me during this new way of teaching.”

Teaching art classes online can be difficult since it’s a hands-on subject, according to Garrett art teacher Heather Dakus, who received a $499 grant to purchase access to online resources to help reach her students in a more tangible and less frustrating way.

“We have the opportunity to access from The Art of Education University a vast curriculum called FLEX Curriculum,” she said. “I have personally tried its modern, flexible platform, several projects and program support. Having the ability to utilize all their vetted and tested resources would change our art students’ experience this year from one of potential frustration to accomplishment.”

Boulder City High School U.S. history teacher Angela Wallace had already “hit the limit” for what she could personally spend on creating a distance education classroom. So she applied for a $108 grant to pay for classtools.net to help her students interact with each other and history.

“With the shortages that are occurring throughout the district, the Boulder City Rotary Club is being exceptionally supportive. … I cannot thank them enough for their help,” she said.

The program allows students to manipulate historical information in an interactive format.

“Timelines can be created by inserting and submitting data,” she said. “The timeline can then be viewed as signs on a path that a car passes. Another timeline adjusts itself as dates are entered and then a visual can be uploaded behind it. Items on the timeline can change colors and be moved as necessary to create additional items or sort them into visual categories.”

Additionally, students can individualize a time period, like World War I, and create characters, enemies, friends and neutral powers in it.

“After doing class assignments and their own research, they create conversations between the people listed,” she said. “It is an excellent way to help students retain the curriculum as well as putting into context and understanding how and why the parties were in conflict.”

Mitchell Elementary School teacher Carrie Herring said she and two other kindergarten teachers used their grant money to buy books to give out to students every month as well as a book bag and stuffed animal to provide incentives for reading.

“With online learning this year, this is even more crucial,” she said. “During a normal school year, students attend library class on a weekly basis and it is during this time that they can check out books, but this is not happening due to the school closures. With this money, every month we will be able to buy each student a new book to keep, thus creating their very own personal library. The book buddy will be an added fun incentive to encourage reading.”

Boulder City High School counselor Debbie Cattoir said staff received a $499 grant to purchase gift cards from community eateries to use as prizes for guidance meetings with students.

Club President George Rosenbaum said the club been giving out these grants for seven years and may offer a second round of them in the spring due to the pandemic.

“Our club does a lot of educational grants. … We put our money in the community … but we focus it on education,” he said.

Contact reporter Celia Shortt Goodyear at cgoodyear@bouldercityreview.com or at 702-586-9401. Follow her on Twitter @csgoodyear.

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