Grant Writing

There were many strategies and tools that I wanted to bring back after attending NCAAT and after my internship this summer. Some of these things included writing more grants to provide opportunities and resources for my students, incorporating the design thinking process with my STEM lessons, and creating more project based learning opportunities in my classroom, as well as other classrooms that I work with. I also wanted to make sure to bring more STEM careers and businesses to my students, whether this includes students going to these businesses, Skyping with some of these careers, or having guests come and speak with my students. It is the beginning of the school year, and I plan to make sure to include all of these into my classroom this year at some point. However, I thought it would be good to start with writing grants so I could go ahead and start to obtain some money and resources so I could bring more of these opportunities to my students

I started writing grants this summer before school officially started. I wrote a Donors Choose project in which I asked for several STEM books to use to connect science and math standards to my STEM lesson. One generous donor donated this in a few days.  I received the books before the school year started, and I have already been incorporating several of the books into my classes. The students love it and I love that I can bring more literacy to STEM. I also wrote a few other grants. I wrote one grant hoping to receive flexible seating in my STEM room. Unfortunately, I did not receive this grant. I also wrote a grant to bring Ozobots to my STEM classroom so I could continue to build on the students’ knowledge of robotics and continue to engage and interest students in science and math. I am waiting to hear back on this grant.

One of my favorite grants I wrote included bringing “Level Up Village” to two classrooms. This company links up classrooms across the globe to have students work on a common STEM project. One of the 2nd grade classes will work on listening to 4-5 different folktales and engineer solutions to different problems posed in the stories. The other 2nd grade classroom will learn about music, culture of their own, and other cultures and music across the globe and create different types of instruments. Both of these classes would share their products with the other classes over the web through Google Hangouts, Skyping, or Blogging. We are still waiting to hear back from this grant and we are hopeful that we will receive this grant.

Once I started the process of writing grants, I realized it was not much different than writing a paper for graduate class, and it is an easy way to obtain the resources I want for my students. Although I become a little disappointed when I work so hard to write a grant and do not receive it, I also realize that it is part of the process. I may have to be let down a few times before actually receiving some of the grants I write. I found the session on grant writing helpful at NCAAT, and actually received several great tips, as well as several grants I plan to apply for. I will continue to write grants throughout the year. For my next grant, I plan to write a grant to provide my students with field trip opportunities to different businesses around us so students can become interested in different careers within our community.


Change in Perspective

When I was interning at St. Joseph’s of the Pines, especially when working in the health clinic, I realized that the health profession, especially nursing is not much different from that of teaching when it comes to the community of professions. They have similar job tasks, expectations, and stress of teachers. It was actually funny to see how similar working with the elderly can be when working with children. The older patients can be just as stubborn and needy as young children. Nurses, therapists, and office administration may have different tasks than that of teachers, but they still have the stress of meeting each individual’s unique needs, figuring out a plan of action, attending meetings, and even moaning and groaning a little when something comes down the pipe that they do not agree with. It was interesting to realize that my career may have some different aspects but in the end, other careers have similar demands, tasks, meetings, and issues that I face every day within in my position and school.

I also felt that observing and working at St. Joseph’s as well as ATL was eye opening to see the opportunities for children entering the workforce in the future. This was supposed to be my focus anyway since Carrie and I are working on bring STEM relevant jobs to middle school students. We have a good idea on how we are going to peak students’ interest in both the health care and computer programming careers, but it also made us think of other STEM jobs in the area that students can become interested. This was truly exciting to know that we are not only teaching standards but we are making our teaching relevant to STEM careers. I am beyond excited to work and teach our middle school students this summer. I cannot wait to see what they are interested in as well as give them chances to become interested in other careers they may have never known about or thought about!

Internship Complete, Now the Real Fun Begins…

Before I began my internship, I was excited and nervous. What can I anticipate? Will it be exhilarating or could it end up being boring? Will I be able to come up with ideas for my project or will I get stuck?  I just wanted it to be worth my time! After leaving NCAAT and feeling pumped, I figured the internship would go similar, and I just happened to be right.

Before interning at St. Joseph’s of the Pines, I thought of it to be a rich and snooty nursing home. Wow, was I wrong! St. Joseph’s is a beautiful place that treats their residents and patients like family. Not only does St. Joseph’s offer independent living at two locations, Pine Knoll and Belle Meade, but they also offer assisted living at the Coventry and more personal homes, home care, independent living for low-income adults, a mobile unit, several daily activities for residents to participate in all across the campus and especially at the Club house, as well as Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. St. Joseph’s is not only in Southern Pines, but can be found in Aberdeen, Carthage, Robbins, and outside our county in Red Springs and Fayetteville. I was able to visit several of these locations and facilities, and join in on some of the fun!

With over 750 staff, it was impossible to meet everyone in three weeks, but believe me when I say that I met a lot of the staff while visiting and interning at the different sites! I went to the Club house and met with Sam, the Fitness guru and coordinator at Belle Meade and Pine Knoll. He was able to show me how he helps residents to stay healthy and how he caters to their needs and wants. The balance machine was by far the coolest thing I have seen. According to Sam, the residents biggest fear is falling, so why not provide them with a machine that can help them with this fear!

I also was able to work at the Coventry, along side nurses and watched as they took care of patients and how they assisted them. The most memorable part of this building was the memory care unit, in which many of the residents in this locked unit suffer from Alzheimer’s and dementia. I noticed some paper memory games while I was there. Leeann, one of the nurses I was shadowing, told how research states that when patients play memory games, it can help them with memory loss.

I was also able to work in the Health Clinic and Skilled Nursing and Rehabilitation. I probably spent most of my internship in this unit. I shadowed nurses, obtained a good overview of how the admissions office works, how patients are welcomed in and out, saw how evaluations and tests were performed, how nurses came up with a treatment plan for patients, and reviewed occupational and physical therapy. My favorite unit was the occupational therapy. The room was called Village Therapy, and it looked like everyday life including a car, a bedroom, a grocery store, and a kitchen. Patients came to this unit to learn how to get back on their feet after surgery. Therapists and aides worked with patients to get them back to their normal life, physically, and cognitively.

The last week, Carrie and I worked together. She showed me around ATL (Accelerated Technology Labs) and I learned about using Microsoft to code and build our own app, which was pretty neat! We thought of different ways we could use this in our own classes and STEM camp. Then I showed her St. Joseph’s for a few days, and we talked about different ideas that I thought of, such as students creating memory games for the different residents.

The biggest take away that I discovered was how much employees must be willing to make a connection with their residents in order to get them to do anything! Empathy was a huge piece, and therefore I think we will use the design thinking process to build some of our STEM camp ideas. Communication was another crucial piece at both internships. If we are to teach students anything, we must focus on this critical skill!

I feel I have a much better understanding of everything St. Joseph’s and ATL offers for our community, and how we can get middle school students excited and ready for the work force! I look forward to creating lessons based off of our internships and working with students in our STEM camp for the Boys and Girls Club!

Overwhelmed yet Exhilarated, Fried yet Inspired!

Before coming to NCCAT for the Kenan fellowship, I only heard wonderful things, including  it will be the best professional development I have ever received, the food would be amazing, and I would make so many teacher connections. I had high expectations, yet I was nervous. I think anytime someone ventures on a new journey, nerves kick in, especially something so out of one’s comfort zone. Lucky for me, I did not have to venture into this journey alone. I had a veteran NCCAT teacher along beside me the whole time. Carrie and I are teaming up to create a summer STEM camp for the boys and girls club. Although we have different internships, we both will be collaborating on our final project together.

NCCAT was everything I expected and more! We started off day one learning about the different expectations. Although this was a much needed day, this day is what I like to call “the uneasy day” Any day one anywhere is always about figuring out the ropes and that is exactly how I felt all throughout the day even onto dinner (which was AMAZING) and on the patio. It was fun talking to different fellows, learning about their fellowship, although it felt a little awkward and uncomfortable at times since we are all trying to get to know once another. However as day two rolled around and we got the results of our Myers Briggs test, we started to learn about the true personalities of everyone there! I think it is safe to say we have a huge extrovert, judging group and I would not want it any other way!

Day two was packed with information including the test results, which helped me to learn a little bit more about myself, and the branding (which I loved and have already changed it since being back home). The different sessions about STEM and reading, the info-graphics, and the design process using empathy were some of my favorite sessions. We went hard all the way to dinner at 6 where we learned more about one another, and opened up to each on the patio with charades of course!

Day three with the citizen science scavenger hunt was by far my favorite day! Not only did I learn how to create a fun science hunt for students, I learned all some new science information, especially being outdoors. My favorite was working as a team, and figuring out the best way to complete the missions (and become number one of course, which we did!) I think I enjoyed this day the best because it really put me in the shoes of one of my students. If they were to do something like this, I would know exactly how they feel. When I first saw all the missions, I thought “Wow, we are never going to get thought this” but as time went one and time got closer to the end, we realized how we could push ourselves to complete the missions. High expectations were set and we reached to achieve them. This is such a wonderful lesson for all students to learn and benefit from.

I even enjoyed how day four was packed with lots of great information as well, and gave us a choice in matters we wanted to learn about. I cannot wait to go back and start writing grants (one of my favorite ed camp sessions) for all the different ideas flowing in my head! The end of day four though with Alumni Kenan Fellows sharing their stories of overcoming obstacles was by far the best session of the day. Learning how to get the naysayers on board and finding the marigolds really hit home for me.

A year ago, before taking the job as a STEM teacher, I was unhappy with my job because I was surrounded by people with negative attitudes who did not believe in making the same difference that I did. I knew I had to “find my marigolds” so I ventured on a journey to a new school with a new position, and I was refueled with the same passion that I had when I first started teaching. Being along side Kenan Fellows and staying at NCCAT all week also helped me to keep this passion flowing. My brain was beyond fried Friday morning, but I was also inspired to bring all these new ideas back to my school and begin working on my project. I cannot wait to continue this journey with fellows who have the same passion that I do. I will look to them to keep my passion lit. They all have inspired me in so many ways.