Spelling bee funds teacher grants
By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on October 24, 2010 1:50 AM
News-Argus/MICHAEL K. DAKOTA
Brandi Howell, a second-grade teacher at Edgewood Developmental Center, shows off assisted technical tools that were purchased with a grant from the Chamber of Commerce. The educational tools enable non-verbal students to communicate.
Brandi Howell has a small class of second-graders -- only 10 students.
But most of them are also non-verbal, arriving at Edgewood Community Developmental School with multiple handicaps or autism.
Equipment and assisted technology, though, are quite expensive, so the teacher has had to be creative in how she elicits responses to lessons in the classroom.
When the opportunity arose for her to apply for mini-grant funding last year through Wayne Education Network, she leapt at the chance.
She was pleased to receive the estimated $350, which she promptly used to purchase communication switches and devices.
The difference it made in her classroom was almost immediate, especially among her students who can't talk.
"It gave them a voice," she said. "They definitely respond much more, being able to get that feedback -- being able to press one (button on the device) and hear something that they created, they get that feedback and it makes them much more interested in the lesson."
Ms. Howell, a teacher for five years, three at Edgewood, appreciated being a recipient of the supplemental funding.
"These things are really expensive and that's why the grants are so great," she said. "It's really nice because it's something that you can't get with classroom money."
The next round of mini-grants is coming up, and Ms. Howell said she has already submitted an application for two more projects.
"I'm hoping to get more tactile things for the students," she said.
Funding for the mini-grants program comes from the Extreme Spelling Bee, a project sponsored by Wayne Education Network, or WEN, through the Wayne County Chamber of Commerce.
In the eight years since the bee was launched, it has raised more than $132,000 in teacher grants.
This year's event will be held Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Lane Tree Country Club.
Teams are still needed, said Dr. Ed Wilson of WEN.
"We think we're in pretty good shape with the judges and the runners we need," he said. "Right now another team or two would help. We would also love for people just to come out and view it. It's a fun day."
All it takes is eight
people, a minimum of four, to form a team, said Janet of the Chamber.
Traditionally, public and private schools participate in the annual bee, and this year there are a number of businesses and organizations also taking part.
"We're really enthused about the support from the business community as well as the school community," she said. "But we still need teams. It's much lower this year. I don't know why, if it's because of the economy."
Teams are encouraged to raise money in advance, which is used to purchase a word if team members
cannot come up with the correct spelling.
All money raised is used to support the teacher grants and the Junior Leadership program.
In addition to the chance to earn the title of county spelling bee champ, though, several prizes have been added this year.
The winning team receives a $500 grant for their school or the school of their choice, as well as a $250 grant prize for the best team spirit and $250 for the best theme.
For more information or to make a donation or register a team, call 734-2241.