Monday, August 17, 2009

1993-1999: Grants! Grants! Grants!

This photo of Liz Marotta-Jordan was taken in 1996 when we went to Seattle for the Road Ahead Grant. We were there for two weeks of training during the summer. We were learning all we could in the daytime and playing with our computers half of the night. We went out for dinner and told the waitress while Liz was gone that it was her birthday. That is why Liz has that expression on her face. She was embarrassed because it was not her birthday. She was our team leader and took the fun in stride.

The years 1993-1999 were years of intense change. Teachers had a basic understanding of how to use the computers, but few computers in their classroom. In 1996 Cathaleen Hampton became the technology facilitator. We still had Wednesday mornings for training, but we needed computers. Around the middle of the decade a technology bond was passed to provide computers for the classrooms and a lab.

1993 Hewlett Packard Grant. We received about 20 Macintosh computers for the grant writers classrooms and the media center. We divided the computers up between us. Cathy Hampton, ManYee Desandies, Sharon Chambers wrote this grant. This was the foreshadowing of a long partnership of grant writing together.

Acceptance of the NFIE grant 1995-1997
Marilyn Johnson from NFIE
Jay Hendee and Belen Magers
Liz Marotta-Jordan

1995 - 1997 The Road Ahead Grant: Power Thinking in Science Through Technology
Funded by Microsoft and the National Foundation for the Improvement of Education. The participating teachers were Liz Jordan, kindergarten teacher; Sharon Chambers, media specialist; Mike Guevara, Vice Principal; Cathaleen Hampton, Computer Academy; Linda Harris, Partner from the Union City Library; Dr. Roger Hoyer, assistant superintendent; Belen Magers, teaching administrator; and Bernadette Muhlstein, science teacher.

This total value of this grant over the two year period was probably $350,000. It was an "in kind" grant. The grantees, Microsoft and NFIE provided training for the team and required a partnership between the district, the Union City library and the team. The district provided the computers in the lab, in the media center, and in classrooms. By the end of grant we had traveled for conferences or training to Seattle, Washington DC, Dallas, Los Angeles, and Burlington, Vermont.

The basic premise was to train teachers how to use the technology and build a Science Discovery Museum in a vacant classroom. Here students would record, analyze, and report on data from student-initiated experiments or from virtual field trips. Classes would visit once a week. An after school computer academy would produce publications to share information. By 1997 we had to complete the project.

The team went to Seattle for two weeks for 2 summers to get technology training along with 22 other schools. We saw what other schools were doing and learned web authoring, hyperstudio, video conferencing, internet as a tool, and practical strategies for continued grant writing. All expenses including substitute time were paid by the grantees. We did have to go to some conferences during school time. Microsoft filled our cafeteria with software. It was a huge amount of software. Most not usable for normal educational purposes, but good to use for experimental purposes.

The teacher training was highly successful. Teachers went from not a clue how to use their computers to embracing all we could teach them. We had and hour and a half of training every Wednesday morning for two years, plus after school users groups. However, by 1997 due to class size reduction we no longer had a place for the Discovery Center. There were no empty classrooms. We tried to set up the lab in the science room, but it just did not work. However, the afterschool Computer Academy was very successful. Cathy Hampton and Manyee Desandies did an amazing job. Although not officially part of the team, Manyee worked with us all the way even going to Seattle with us. Also our partnership with the Union City library was successful. The Union City Library received three computers from the district for their participation in the grant.

We learned a few things from this grant. One, you need a strong team leader who has a lot of time to devote to the grant. We had that in Liz Jordan. She was working half time which allowed her to spend the necessary time on the paperwork. Two, training for the trainers is key to success. Three, sustainability is not easy to accomplish in schools. Circumstances and support people change every year. Four, we learned how to present as a team at conferences with a little flair by adding props, photos, music, and power point. Five, use what you have when writing grants. The district was already prepared to stock the classrooms with computers and make a computer lab (technology bond), so basically the "in kind" part didn't really require extra financial input from the district. Guy Emanuele and Roger Hoyer at the district office did have to schmooze with the NFIE people and sign some paperwork, but it was fine with them. They were great at that.

1999 The Change of Course Grant: National Foundation for the Improvement of Education. Integrating Technology & the Curriculum through Peer Coaching.
Cathaleen Hampton was the team leader while also a full time teacher. The team members were Manyee Desandies, Sharon Chambers, and Debbie Knoth. This was basically a staff development grant. We went to Washington DC for training. NFIE also spent a lot of time reviewing the grant writing process.

1999 Open Gateways Grant, Sun Microsystems, Integrating Technology & the Curriculum through peer coaching. We received 30 Sun computers for the media center. The Sun people were supposed to train us. Unfortunately the trainers did not know how to use the system set up for schools. It ended with Sun cutbacks to personnel and little training for us. However, for 5 years these computers were used for internet access, so having the lab ended up being a very valuable asset for students to use during their media/library time.

1995-1996 Staff
Julia Strong-Yoho principal
Mike Guevara assistant principal
Click on the photo to enlarge

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