I have been a teacher in the district for 13 years. When I first started teaching, I observed many colleagues applying for grants with the Education Foundation and using the funds to enhance their teaching. As a Language Specialist I work with the same students year after year, which is unique in elementary education at Bend-La Pine School District. The Education Foundation Grants I have received resulted in many shared memories with my students. Funds from the Education Foundation have allowed me to plan impactful lessons that are engaging and unforgettable.
One grant that the Education Foundation funded that benefited several students was Forest Days. While I did not apply for this grant, I saw its impact on students. I was lucky to enjoy a Forest Day picnic as a chaperone for my ELL students. They showed me their “sit spots”, the river, and played in the forest. Observing how the grants supported my colleagues and students at Pine Ridge was truly magical.
This experience inspired me to bring some magic into my classroom. With the help of the Education Foundation, I was able to do just that. In 2018, I wrote my first grant for a Salmon Thematic Unit. This was a science/Art Unit for all of my English Language Learners. This unit help build background for my Intermediate students that study the life cycle of a salmon in 5th grade. That year, I thought that my primary students would like doing the projects too. This year (2023) I realized that magic did spark in my classroom. Those kindergarteners, now 5th graders, remembered building a salmon diorama in kindergarten. Because of the Education Foundation grant, I was able to purchase supplies to make the student learning concrete and hands on. This is so important when teaching new concepts. While working on the language, I used science and art projects to scaffold students’ language with content knowledge.
Since the first unit, I have also taught Owls, Bees, Wolves, and Wilderness. Each has played a dramatic affect in supporting my students’ learning. Each year, my ELL students recall something special about a past thematic unit supported by the Education Foundation AND they always want to know what we will learn the next year.
In recent years I have been co-teaching with classroom teachers to integrate the English Language Learning curriculum in the classroom. Teaching the thematic units to all students in the classroom have benefited from the grants. One student recently asked, “Do you remember in 3rd grade when we learned about the wolves with you? That was so cool!!! Are you coming into our classroom this year?”
The Education Foundation has provided many lasting memories for my students, teachers at Pine Ridge, and throughout the district. Thank you for supporting our students with their learning and allowing us, teachers, to dream big with our lessons.
Language Specialist at Pine Ridge
Photo Credit: https://bendtrails.org/west-bend-restoration-project/