Kaiser Elementary Principal Kelly Torpey, far left, congratulates several Kaiser teachers who were awarded grants after applying through unconventional classroom funding programs. Among them were, from left, Tracy Allen, Kaitlyn Ashbaugh, Cathy Cynowa and Cheryl Robisch.

Kaiser Elementary Principal Kelly Torpey, far left, congratulates several Kaiser teachers who were awarded grants after applying through unconventional classroom funding programs. Among them were, from left, Tracy Allen, Kaitlyn Ashbaugh, Cathy Cynowa and Cheryl Robisch.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


Roseville teachers recognized for securing grant money

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published June 11, 2019

 Thanks to a grant from Huron-Clinton Metroparks, Kaitlyn Ashbaugh, the special education kindergarten teacher at Kaiser Elementary School in Roseville, was able to take her students on a field trip to Lake St. Clair Metropark to show them different aspects of nature.

Thanks to a grant from Huron-Clinton Metroparks, Kaitlyn Ashbaugh, the special education kindergarten teacher at Kaiser Elementary School in Roseville, was able to take her students on a field trip to Lake St. Clair Metropark to show them different aspects of nature.

Photo provided by Kaitlyn Ashbaugh

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ROSEVILLE — Due to school budget constraints, some Roseville Community Schools educators are going outside the district to secure funding for specific projects that help their students.

The district honored several of its teachers who did just that at its school board meeting June 3.

“With funds being so tight across school districts, teachers have found new funding sources through things like Donors Choose or the Meemic Foundation that assist teachers in funding some of these outstanding projects or obtaining materials that they really need that the district isn’t able to fund,” said Jeanne Williams, the principal of Patton Elementary School.

Laura Sikorski, a Roseville Community Schools teacher who helps special education classes throughout the district, said the $378 that she secured had allowed her to obtain mobile resources that she can bring with her into any classroom in any school.

“I wrote a Donors Choose grant application for a laptop and some headphones,” she said. “We do online reading programs, and this way, they have the technology, no matter what school I travel to, to aid them. … Usually the kids I teach, who have learning disabilities, benefit from learning in different ways, and multimedia tools help in letting them do that and build skills they wouldn’t be able to otherwise.”

Sue Schneider, a special education and seventh grade math teacher at Roseville Middle School, received $250 for the now-defunct therapy dog program and $350 for small Sphero robots to aid her math students.

“The robots were from Sphero, which are app-controlled robots, and basically they are like radio-controlled cars that you can code to do tricks like drifting or so forth,” Schneider said. “We also use stopwatches so the students can time them and learn about ratios and rates of speed. We try to connect it to real life whenever possible.”

Kaitlyn Ashbaugh, the special education kindergarten teacher at Kaiser Elementary School, got funds from the Get Out and Play Grant program with Huron-Clinton Metroparks and was able to update the class fish tank and take the kids on a trip to Lake St. Clair Metropark, as well as bring back some teaching materials for the classroom.

“I received two grants: One was a sustaining grant for pets in the classroom,” Ashbaugh said. “Last year, I was able to get a fish tank and some fish and equipment to get it going. I was able to get more fish this year for the special education kindergarten. It’s a nice therapeutic thing to have in the classroom. We also took trips out to a nature center with the funds.”

Additionally, Tracy Allen, from Kaiser Elementary, received a grant for $75; Mary Jo Calcaterra, from Kaiser Elementary, received a grant for $600; Cathy Cynowa, from Kaiser Elementary, received a grant for $798; and Cheryl Robisch, from Kaiser Elementary, received a grant for $750. 

Administrators in Roseville’s schools applauded their teachers who have taken these steps, because it means they are working to give their students the extra help they need even if it may not be readily available.

“What these awards of grants really end up doing is making a classroom extra special,” Williams said. “For example, Mrs. Meesseman wanted specialty chairs that students would like to sit in but allow them to wiggle, because many kids have trouble sitting still. The district couldn’t possibly afford sets of these, but through Donors Choose, we could get them into the classroom and it has helped them dramatically with their attention in class.”

Several of the teachers who were recognized said that having resources such as Donors Choose or Meemic is in many ways a game-changer in how they can try to provide their students with something extra.

“I feel very fortunate these resources are available and people are willing to give to teachers,” remarked Sikorski. “Funding is low in most schools now, and having groups reach out and help with that means a lot.”

“I think grants like this definitely improve our education opportunities,” added Ashbaugh. “A lot of students get to do a lot more that they wouldn’t be able to otherwise through this small amount of funding given to us by groups or individual donors.”

Administrators are hoping these educators keep up these initiatives and inspire other teachers to look for ways to expand their students’ opportunities.

“Teachers need to receive more accolades,” said Williams. “They are not recognized enough for their efforts to go above and beyond in the classroom. There are some very excellent teachers out there, and quite a few in this district. Roseville Community Schools does a great job recognizing them.”

Call Staff Writer Brendan Losinski at (586) 498-1068.

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