Jun 20, 2007    #122
Contact: Wandra Brooks Green

UMKC School of Education awards Excellence in Urban Education GrantsThe $3,000 grants will support educators engage urban students, boost learning and achievement

As a part of its mission to support educators who are focused on engaging urban students and advancing their achievement, the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Education has awarded up to a $3,000 Excellence in Urban Education Grant to one outstanding teacher or counselor in each of its nine partner school districts.

Teachers and counselors in Center, Grandview, Hickman Mills, Independence, Kansas City Kansas, Kansas City Missouri, North Kansas City, Raytown and Turner school districts, as well as those at UMKC-sponsored charter schools, were eligible for the grant. Applicants were asked to outline their ideas for projects or programs that will help Kansas City’s urban students excel. Dozens of ambitious educators applied, and one from each district was selected based on the proposed project’s academic rigor; potential to engage students in college and career planning; relevance to students’ needs and interests; and ability to be replicated in other urban schools.

The honored educators will receive up to $2,000 each to fund their proposed programs during the 2007-08 school year and $1,000 each in discretionary funds. The selected grant recipients, by school district, are:

• Center: Skye Nicholson, Center High School – the proposed program will focus on physical science for ninth-grade students. Nicholson’s class will study basic principles of force and motion, and the project will culminate in a class trip to Science City to build a robot or simulate a voyage to Mars.

• Grandview: Jean Darby, Grandview High School – the project will involve advanced woodworking students in constructing a school supplies store on wheels. The store will be managed by students with special needs, providing them experience and opportunities to learn life skills such as making change, bookkeeping, problem solving, and appropriate interpersonal interactions in a business setting.

• Hickman Mills: Julie Blackwell, Baptiste Educational Center – her focus will be on engaging students in the CODE Leadership Academy in a Model UN program. Middle and high school students will immerse themselves in study and simulations as “ambassadors” of different countries, learning about the customs, history, and political issues of the countries they represent.

• Independence: Debra Stidham, William Chrisman High School – the proposed project will create an English as a Second Language classroom library consisting of accelerated reading non-fiction books and Reader’s Theater classics at the 3-8 reading level but with themes of interest to high school students who are non-native English speakers. The books will help ESL students become competent in science, social studies and English and enhance their motivation to learn.

• Kansas City Kansas: Sandra Walker, John F. Kennedy Elementary School – the project will guide students in a study of solar panels and other energy sources. The participating students will use the scientific process to ask questions, form hypotheses, observe and collect data and come to conclusions about solar energy and other energy sources.

• Kansas City Missouri: Lynne Shipley, King Middle School – the proposed project will create a photographic exhibit illustrating Kansas City through the eyes of 13- and 14-year-old urban school children. Participating

• students will have the opportunity to see many Kansas City neighborhoods, take pictures, learn Photoshop and produce a final product including a book and photo display.

• North Kansas City: Margaret Ploch, Ravenwood Elementary School – whose proposed project will create a writing community for her students by expanding the school’s children’s literature collection to house books with specific teachable formats. Using mini-lessons and the expanded collection of literature, Ploch will teach the participating students how to become authors themselves and provide them opportunities to become published authors.

• Raytown: Kelli Small, Raytown C-2 Schools – Small’s project will help new students more effectively transition into the district. These students will be paired with a trained student mentor on their first day of school, and they will also be presented with a gift bag of materials that will help them in their transition. In addition, the students will listen to panel presentations from adults and other students who will present tips for success in the Raytown school district. Finally, the students will also enjoy a transition celebration to welcome them to the district at the end of their first month.

• Turner: Chaurice Jacobson, Turner High School – the project will help freshmen English students learn across time eras and cultures as they read “The Great Gatsby” and apply it to their understanding of the American Dream. The students will also benefit from the use of “clickers,” which they will use to respond to questions evaluating their understanding of the literary text and to engage in classroom discussions.

• UMKC-sponsored Charters: Shelly Busby, Allen Village Charter School – the project is designed to enhance reading comprehension, improve writing skills, and inspire reading to communicate thought-provoking, creative ideas through words and dance. The partner for the project will be the Kansas City Friends of Alvin Ailey, which will help students create dances to accompany selected written works they create during the first half of the school year.

For more information about the UMKC School of Education’s Excellence in Urban Education Grants, go online to or call (816) 235-2466.

UMKC is one of four University of Missouri campuses. It is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health and life sciences, and urban affairs.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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