2011 Karen Cox grant recipients

Kim Duke, kindergarten teacher, Frenchtown Elementary, Frenchtown. “With 21 kindergartners, my goal is to meet the very diverse learning needs of each of my students,” says Duke. Her grant will help by purchasing Insta-Learn materials. These “self-checking” materials reinforce and speed learning by providing immediate feedback to children. “They provide hands-on student instruction while freeing up the teacher to work with small groups,” says Duke.  

Cheryll Amen, 2nd grade teacher, Orchard Elementary, Billings. Research shows young readers need to hear expert reading modeled every day, says Amen. But her students are in the lowest socioeconomic bracket and receive little or no reading support at home. With her grant, Amen will set up listening centers so students can hear good reading and practice independently. The grant will purchase CD players, headphones, and read-along CDs to supplement current reading instruction in her classroom. 

Abby Stitt, 3rd-4th grade combined teacher, Potomac School, Bonner. Stitt’s grant will allow her school to buy applications for 15 iPads. She explains: The Pages application allows the iPad to become a word processor. Meteor Math helps students master math facts. Geographia teaches states and capitals, and National Geographic World Atlas provides access to outstanding world maps.  

Lauree Sayler, K-5 music teacher, Florence Carlton Elementary, Florence. Sayler’s grant will purchase special construction paper for students to make masks for a school-wide event that weaves art, reading, writing, speaking, and music, using Hanneke Ippisch’s Spotted Bear, A Rocky Mountain Folktale as a theme. Students will present their masks, stories, poems, and songs at a community event. “In this day of rigorous test taking, this activity will allow students to participate in higher level thinking skills and creativity,” Sayler says.

Angie Sinrud, K-8 Explore School teacher, Helena Public Schools. Explore School brings homeschool students into the public school district for science education. The program works to meet the needs of students with various learning styles, since learning style differences may be part of the reason kids are homeschooled, Sinrud says. Her grant will help purchase science equipment for the program.

Susie Kenison, 1st grade teacher, Ridge View Elementary, Belgrade: To become good readers, children need to spend time daily with engaging books they can read successfully. “But many families don’t have appropriate books at home for early readers,” says Kenison. With school funding cuts, she has to spend her own money on books for her classroom. Kenison’s grant will buy books from the Take Home Reading Program, bringing her students an extensive selection of quality books at their reading level.

Amanda Howland, 2nd grade teacher, Orchard Elementary, Billings. Second grade teachers at Orchard are “eager to widen our students’ interest in writing,” says Howland. “However, classroom materials are very limited.” Her grant will give teachers access to a variety of writing tools, teacher resource materials, and supplies to “foster independent writers who are able to communicate their ideas.”

Tanya Kirschman, K-6 counseling, Highland Elementary, Billings. Kirschman’s grant will help reduce bullying at her school with the Purple Hand Pledge program. This program motivates students to apply healthy problem-solving and anger management skills, Kirschman says. Students who adhere to the pledge (“I will not use my hands or my words for hurting myself or others”) qualify to win monthly prizes. Kirschman’s grant will help purchase the incentive prizes.

Dawn McCrohan, kindergarten teacher, Bitterroot Elementary, Billings. Dawn’s grant will purchase several popular books used with the common core math standards for counting skills, patterning, and sorting skills. 

The books are suggested/required but not provided by the school district, she says. “I either have to borrow these books from other teachers who are also using the books or track them down through multiple libraries. Sometimes I have to do without because we can’t get our hands on the books.”

Lisa Scott, 7th grade teacher, Castle Rock Middle School, Billings. Scott’s grant will buy Flip video cameras so her students can participate in an annual math competition called “Reel Math Challenge.” Students will work in teams of four to create videos of innovative solutions to challenging math problems that relate to real life.