May 7, 2008    #040
Contact: Wandra Green

UMKC School of Education’s Joan and Bert Berkley Excellence in Urban Education Grants Awarded for 2008-2009

As a part of its mission to support teachers focused on urban students and their achievements, the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) School of Education has awarded the Joan and Bert Berkley Excellence in Urban Education Grants for 2008-2009.

Teachers and counselors from UMKC’s nine partner school districts and the UMKC-sponsored charter schools submitted plans for programs tailored to Kansas City’s urban students. Based on academic rigor; emphasis on college and career planning; appropriateness to student needs and interests; and ease of application in other urban schools, one outstanding project from each district was selected. Each educator and collaborative team receives up to $3,000 to fund their programs. Following is a list of selected projects, by district.

• Center: Suzanne Melena, Boone Elementary School – The Special Education staff at Boone match real-world uses with students’ new skills. By planting and caring for their own pumpkin patch, reading about pumpkins and learning marketing and selling techniques, Boone students will become urban gardeners. Teachers and building staff will be their main consumers.

• Charter Schools: Danielle Farr, University Academy – Through the design and construction of a greenhouse, students in this project will improve mathematics, science and team skills. Academy students will use math to conceptualize and construct the greenhouse; and they will learn to interpret and follow technical specifications. Once the greenhouse is in use, students will learn about the water cycle, botanical life cycles, weather and climate patterns, and personal impact on the environment.

• Grandview: Amy Cameron, Grandview Alternative School – Students at the Grandview Alternative School will learn to express themselves through documentary filmmaking. After reviewing existing documentaries, students will form interview questions, practice interview techniques, and then — by filming the people, events, and the everyday look of their town — put together a movie about their community.

• Hickman Mills: Michele Pippens, Ingels Elementary School – Play therapy helps children understand their attitudes toward themselves and others, and replace negative self-images with healthy, confident feelings. In this project, students from K-5th grades will exhibit — through play — the problems that are affecting their development. The counselors can then demonstrate coping skills and social interactions that may alleviate the students’ frustrations and anxieties.

• Independence: Pam Diecidue, William Chrisman High School – Students will practice everyday Spanish expressions in simulated Spanish environments. A surprise scenario in each situation — going to a restaurant, the market or a hospital — encourages students to speak spontaneously and practice less familiar vocabulary. Videotapes of the students’ conversations will provide feedback on their fluency and mastery of Spanish.

• Kansas City, Kansas: Adrianne Miller, Rosedale Middle School – To move them toward mastery of the math benchmarks and adequate performance on the Kansas Mathematics Assessments, 7th and 8th grade Rosedale students may attend a “benchmark blaster camp” during the school year. To get a helpful boost, students may work with a student tutor or utilize the Benchmark Blaster Camp Clubhouse’s supply of computer resources, practice pages and supplemental books.

• Kansas City, Missouri: Paul Kehmeier, Paseo Academy – Paseo Academy has had a FIRST robotics team for three years. To expand the abilities of the team to construct more advanced machines, this project will employ extra practice time using additional tools and materials. It is hoped that team members will try new strategies and will tackle new challenges confidently, thereby moving from a successful entry-level team to the next stage.

• North Kansas City: Andrew Schuerman, Winnetonka High School – Project Unity will improve Winnetonka’s climate by showing students the harmful effects of bullying and harassment. Through improv theater workshops, students will learn that mistreating someone is hurtful and to step in when bullying occurs. Also, a Diversity Task Force will plan additional activities, such as a Diversity Week.

• Raytown: Beth Dusin, Laurel Hills Elementary School – When experiencing difficult times, children may have trouble learning. Reading about a character in the same situation may help students learn how to cope with problems. This project in bibliotherapy, which includes a reading place and suitable books, will train Laurel Hills teachers and counselors to help children deal with their emotions.

• Turner: Nancy Nash, Turner High School – Students at Turner High School with severe disabilities need basic life skills and job training. “The Bear Mart” is a school store where these students will use their counting skills to pay for merchandise and to make change. For more information about the UMKC School of Education’s Excellence in Urban Education Grants, go online to or call (816) 235-2466.

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. Celebrating 75 years, UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban engagement.

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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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