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February 6, 2007 > New Haven district mini-grants

New Haven district mini-grants

One teacher is getting money for a treasure chest, an aquarium, a suitcase and other props that she can use to help English language learners understand classroom stories. Two others will be able to buy puppets that will help promote dialogue, critical thinking and problem-solving as part of their lessons. Still others will purchase extra books, learning games, science materials and supplies for school and community gardens.

They are among 14 New Haven Unified School District teachers sharing $5,000 worth of mini-grants awarded January 17 by the New Haven Schools Foundation, for special projects that promote learning.

The Foundation, which started the program during the 2005-06 school year, received applications this year for 32 projects representing the efforts of 36 teachers, from kindergarten through adult school. Ten projects were selected, including three involving two or more teachers, and the winners received their awards when the Foundation's "Prize Patrol" toured the District, surprising the teachers in front of their students.

The winners include a project submitted by Kitayama Elementary School teacher Kim DeBono, who will purchase the treasure chest, aquarium, suitcase and other items for her third-grade classroom, to be used with stories about adventure, animal habitats, travel and other subjects.

At Searles Elementary, science specialist Carole Segall and media specialist Teresa Squaglia will buy puppets to be used in science lab and the media center to pose problems and ask questions. The puppets - story characters and animals - also will be made available for classroom teachers to enhance curriculum.

The recipients and their schools and projects: Jill Brabson and Sharen Valles (Eastin Elementary) "Bridge to Communication;" Vicki Baker, Elaine Fong and Pat Puckett (Alvarado Middle) "Bringing Science Into Resource Classrooms;" Erin Cross (Logan High) "Interactive Homework;" Kim DeBono (Kitayama Elementary) "Getting Real With Houghton-Mifflin;" Cheryl Konno (Searles Elementary) "School Community Garden;" Sharyl Larson (Conley-Caraballo High) "School Garden Club;" Kelsey Moran (Emanuele Elementary "Learning Games Involving Mentor Support;" Sandy Rudy (Barnard-White Middle) "Leveled Reading Boxes;" Carole Segall and Teresa Squaglia (Searles Elementary) "Puppets for All;" Emi Young (New Haven Adult): "ESL Literacy Levels."

The Prize Patrol was led by Foundation President Barbara Aro-Valle and also included New Haven Superintendent Dr. Pat Jaurequi, Board of Education member Gertrude Gregorio, Foundation members Christa Choi, Philip Crosby and Lori Valdes, and District Director of Curriculum Lynn Thompson.

An 11th award, sponsored individually by Board of Education Clerk Kevin Harper, will be announced next week, bringing the number of recipients this year to 15. At that point, the program will have recognized a total of 28 teachers in two years, distributing nearly $10,000 total.

Anyone interested in sponsoring mini-grants or contributing to any of the Foundation's other programs - including college scholarships, the Brian Kelly Memorial Tutoring Program and the Virginia Swihart Fund to support beginning teachers - can contact Executive Director Rick La Plante by phone (510-471-1100, ext. 2310) or e-mail:

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