The St. Louis Public Schools Foundation has begun work with a new round of innovative educators dedicated to bringing fresh ideas and approaches to our students. Thanks to funding from Wells Fargo Advisors and Ameren, this year the SLPS Foundation awarded prizes of up to $10,000 to innovate in two areas: increasing student leadership and promoting reading at grade level for students who are most struggling. “Innovation grants give us the chance to imagine new paths for our students, and the freedom to pursue those paths,” noted Diane Dymond, principal of Stix Early Childhood Education Center. Projects ranged from starting the first-ever elementary school student councils to establishing reading clubs at schools. “We are seeing the promise of these grants pay off,” explained SLPS Foundation President, Jane Donahue, “Not only are there successes at each school to celebrate, the grants also are proving successful in helping us to retain some of SLPS’ most inventive teachers.” This year’s winners are:
AESM Middle School: Increase students’ vision for future pathways by having them develop a leadership circle and plan visits with local leaders and a college campus tour in the spring.
Farragut Elementary School: Train teachers on reading strategies to work with students, who are grouped into “reading houses” based on their skill level.
Hodgen Tech Elementary: Expand high-interest reading options and access computer-assisted reading development tools and analysis capabilities, as well as create an inviting reading space for learners.
Patrick Henry Academy: Transform a classroom into and welcoming reading space for students to foster a love of reading, with an emphasis on high-interest texts by black authors or featuring black protagonists. Shape school programming such as “book talks” around this space.
Mason Elementary School: Create a consortium of elementary student councils in the district, and attend officers to the LEAD conference in Washington DC.
Stix Early Childhood Education Center: Introduce technology (document cameras, iPads) into kindergarten classrooms and teach them to use tools to conduct their own investigative learning (i.e., document and solve problems in class, interview fellow students or teachers, present on a topic they love).
Soldan High School: Train staff on collaborative teaching practices, and reestablish student government and student court.