Classroom wishes are easily ‘granted’

Published 11:20 pm Friday, February 27, 2009

In her four-plus years at Demopolis Middle School, seventh-grade teacher Meggin Mayben has kept a watchful eye for grant money that could be used to enhance her classroom.

Among her most recent acquisitions are a Promethian Active Board and a Promethian Active Slate that, when used in tandem, can be used to project notes on the board from anywhere in the classroom and for the class to take quizzes and see the results instantly.

“Promethian Expressions is the classroom response systems,” Mayben said. “Each student has one of those, and if we have questions on the board or a test on the board that is projected, the students can enter their answers, and it projects on the board. It gives them the correct response if they get it wrong, once everybody has put their answer in.”

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Using grants at a time when the economy is down and school systems statewide are going through proration helps teachers attain the latest in study aides without going through the usual financial channels.

“My mother (Elynn Dickerson, a teacher at U.S. Jones Elementary School) told me that when the grants come out, I needed to write for something for the classroom,” Mayben said. “That’s money that’s free, waiting to be used, and she said, ‘If you don’t use it, somebody else will.’ So I said, ‘OK. I don’t mind writing!’”

Despite the widespread availability of grants, Mayben said that in her first year at DMS, only three or four of the 40 teachers were taking advantage of them. Now, she said there are many more teachers applying for grants.

“The way I see it is: If I hadn’t written those grants, we wouldn’t have any of this stuff,” she said, indicating her classroom full of technological aids. “I think they (the students) are more interested, and they retain it a little longer.”

Mayben said that in applying for grants, teachers need to be specific about how the items will enhance the class.

“You have to answer so many questions,” she said. “You have to do research for whatever it is that you want to buy. You have to get all the pricings — you have to do the work to get it, but I don’t think it’s too much work for what you get.”

Mayben said many of her grants come through the Demopolis City Schools Foundation. The DCSF will begin a fund drive soon.

“There is no excuse not to know about these grants,” she said, “especially if you’re in the school system.”

At a time when the economy is down and school systems are struggling for funding across the state, teachers can gain a lot of technology and other teaching aids through grants.

Meggin Mayben can attest that it may take some work, but it pays off for the students in the end.