EATEL awards Ascension Teachers with $5,000 in “Reach a Kid, Teach a Kid” Grants

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen
Top row, left to right: Mae Stevens, Shondra James, Carla Duplechin, Rebecca Muskat, and Rebecca Stewart. Bottom row, left to right: Rae Broussard, Kadee Dupuis, Janis Ament, and Pam Gautreau. Not pictured: Alice Bourque.

GONZALES – Ten Ascension Parish teachers have received $500 each in grant money from EATEL to support innovative teaching methods that are designed to engage students in their classrooms.  EATEL’s annual “Reach a Kid, Teach a Kid” grants were judged this year by a committee comprised of EATEL’s own Beryl Smith and Lyman Abadie, along with Angelle Deshautelles, Executive Director for Ascension Parish Libraries, and Sherry Denig, Executive Director for Volunteer Ascension.

For over 17 years, the EATEL Reach a Kid, Teach a Kid grant program has helped fund unique projects in local schools, impacting hundreds of primary, middle and high school students every year. To date, EATEL has awarded more than $85,000 in teacher grants.

 “EATEL is proud to be able to help one of the most valuable resources in our community: our teachers,” said Toby DuBois, EATEL Chief Marketing Officer.  “We’re glad that our ‘Reach a Kid, Teach a Kid’ grants are able to fund creative thinking in local classrooms which supports Ascension Parish schools’ ability to shine.”

EATEL hosted a ceremony on Wednesday, October 22, 2014, in their lobby to honor this year’s grantees.  Attending in support of these winning teachers were their school principals, friends and family members as well as Ascension Superintendent of Schools Patrice Pujol, Assistant Superintendent of Schools Steve Westbrook, Director of Secondary Schools David Alexander, ‎Supervisor of Secondary Education Lisa Bacala, and Supervisor of Career & Technical Education Ronda Mathews.

 “It’s just so exciting to have some of our very best teachers, with their creative ideas and passion for our kids, show their willingness to go that extra mile,” said Dr. Patrice Pujol, Ed.D., Superintendent of Ascension Parish Schools.  “And we can’t thank EATEL enough for their commitment to continuing the funding of these teacher grants because our students are the ones who profit.”

 2014 EATEL grant winners include (in alphabetical order):

Janis Ament, St. Theresa Middle School

Project: ““Service with a Smile from the Heart”

St. John Primary first through third graders will adopt nursing and assisted living homes in Gonzales to reach out and connect with elderly members of our community. Students will write and mail letters once a month and then, in a class field trip, will present the seniors with charming pieces of art and treat them to a musical performance. Prior to the field trip to area nursing and assisted living homes, students will discuss in class the importance of community service and how they can continue to help as they grow older. Students will also be given a list of questions so they can interview the residents. This grant will impact 240 students and approximately 290 seniors.

Alice Bourque, St. Amant High School

Project:  “Real World Success”

Technology is an integral part of our world and, as such, the ways of teaching Real World computer applications needs to engage today's interactive, visual learners appropriately. Ms. Bourque teaches Introduction to Business Computer Applications and Business Computer Applications. These classes encompass lessons in formatting professional business documents, e-mails, memos, newsletters, spreadsheets, and databases that students will use in their post-secondary education and/or careers.  This grant will poise these students for success by allowing them to become "in-house Microsoft Office specialists" with 5 clients to service. The format of the lessons simulates real business world work-orders and challenges students to use critical thinking and decision-making skills while applying the Microsoft Office skills they learn in class.

Rae Broussard, St. Amant High School

Project:  “Behind the Scenes”

Through this grant, students in G-C-E, Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Pro-Start, & B-C-A will collaborate on one large project. Students will create & host a “Dine in Movie Night” at St. Amant High School. Each class will focus on specific tasks that enhance their courses learning objectives. Students will be excited to learn the skills needed for a hands-on business that they create. They will have chances to make their own decisions, be creative, learn from their mistakes, and find their niche whether it be server, chef, business owner, manager, accountant, graphic designer, kitchen manager, entrepreneur, decorator, or coordinator. Students will learn how much hard work goes on "behind the scenes" to effectively run a business and put on a successful event.  If successful, students will continue to host this event in the future as a learning experience and fundraiser for Gator Mania, the school-based enterprise.

Carla Duplechin, Gonzales Middle School, 6th grade

Project: “Crossing Borders While Touching Hearts”

This grant will involve ten special education students. Some of these students are unable to write and listen at the same time, some have difficulty remaining focused on instruction, and some have difficulty understanding material when it is presented within the four walls of a classroom. They all learn best when they are able to see, hear, touch and become an active part of what is being taught. This grant will provide opportunities for engaging ALL learners.  Students will choose various landscape border bricks, select patterns or create their own patterns and decorate their pieces.  The students will acquire functional reading and mathematics skills through the use of developmental hands-on activities, and will be able to re-tell and sequence the events that occurred along the process.  They will enjoy a sense of pride and accomplishment upon seeing their finished products and gifting them to their families.

 Kadee Dupuis, St. Amant High School

Project:  “Big Fun with Big Books”

This grant is geared towards high school seniors who will to pursue a profession in the field of education. One of the major requirements for course completion is an extended field experience where students intern in a classroom at one of our feeder schools. During their internships, they must teach a lesson, help students one-on-one, and learn classroom skills. One of the units in the STAR curriculum provides students with the opportunity to read a classic children's book to a classroom of children after practicing first with their peers and STAR class. Reading aloud is an essential skill for any classroom teacher, and this activity needs to be as fun and interactive as possible. This grant will make it possible to purchase several "big books" of classic children's stories to use for this unit.  These books will benefit the students by enhancing the experience of reading in front of their peers as they get to know each other in class, and then again as an introductory activity in their field experience classrooms.

Pam Gautreau, The Church Academy

Project:  “Just What the Doctors Ordered”

This grant recognizes that writing is an essential life skill. Students will learn about empathy through various genres of books:  poems, fiction, nonfiction, riddles/jokes, and fables.  Students will then build on prior knowledge of writing skills taught last year. Students will then be instructed to write their own stories with a focus on making a difference in the life of another through compassion.  They will review all components of the writing stages: brainstorming, rough copy, editing, final copy, and publishing. Once students begin to write, children will work in groups to encourage peer revision and cooperation. The writing project will be published as a collaborative piece of the entire class.  Once the books are published, each student will take home a copy, and several copies will be donated to local nursing homes, widow’s outreach, and to the children’s hospital. These students will become published authors with empathetic hearts.

Shondra James, Donaldsonville Primary School

Project:  “All I Want To Do Is Read”

Many of the children at Donaldsonville Primary have limited exposure to quality literature. Many of the books available to the teacher are dated and do not include many of the characters that they are familiar with in their daily lives. The classroom that I teach is a magnet classroom, and each student has an iPad to use within the classroom. This grant will allow each student to access hundreds of stories right at their fingertips.  Students will engage with the stories for guided reading groups, independent reading, and book clubs.  Students will increase their reading fluency and comprehension.

Rebecca Muscat, Dutchtown High School

Project:  “Photography Can Reach a Kid, Videography Can Teach a Kid”

Through this grant, students will be able to utilize digital camera technology during lab activities. For example, the students will take photographs during experiments of observed reactions, record peer-narrated videos to summarize experiments, and will be able to share those photos and videos with the class – especially any students who are absent, so they will be able to participate in subsequent class discussions.  Students will be able to print the images of their work using a portable photo printer. This way, photos will be available to students not only during group discussions for reference and clarity but also as an additional source of data within a formal lab report.  Visual data collection will increase the students' engagement and thus enhance the pride that students will take in their work. There may also be an opportunity to expand and connect their use of photography and videography into other classes such as, advertising, digital media, and other business and art classes. This technology can be utilized for subsequent years and shared within the biology department, thus benefitting thousands of students.

Mae Stevens, Prairieville Primary School

Project:  “Reading Closely” 

Students will be reading several novels within the modules of the Expeditionary Learning Curriculum this year. If students had their own copies of a novel, they could write and annotate in their book. Students would have the opportunity take the novel home, re-read for understanding and share new learning with their families. Students will learn how to annotate for a variety of purposes when reading. Close Reading is a lifelong learning strategy.  If students are able to have their own copy of the novel, they can use it as a reference for the rest of their lives.

Rebecca Stewart, Oak Grove Primary School

Project:  “Number Fun with Rekenreks”

This grant will furnish a 6-year-old mathematicians with manipulatives to keep them engaged. With this grant, a classroom set of individual Rekenreks as well as a 100 count Rekenrek for demonstration purposes will be able to be purchased. Rekenrek