NORTH CRAWFORD - The open-hearted generosity of community members and alumni of the North Crawford School District is yielding many positive results for youth in the district. North Crawford Communty Education Foundation’s (NCCEF) good works span the gamut from scholarships for those going on to post-secondary education to grants for teachers to implement innovative programs in the classroom.
The fundraising work of a dedicated group of folks in this community is a testament to the commitment to seeing young people receive a well-rounded education and leading successful lives after graduation.
“Through the generosity of our North Crawford Community we are able to not only offer help to students as they graduate from North Crawford and continue their education beyond high school, we are also able to impact classrooms and students in many grade levels,” NCCEF board member Chuck Bolstad said. “The members of the community should take great pride in the positive impact of their donations, large and small.”NCCEF conducted its first grant cycle, for projects proposed by teachers, in late 2017. Two grants, totaling $898, were awarded – one was to fund a Wiggle While You Work project (Amy Geary); the other, to fund the construction of ‘standing tables’ (Nate McKittrick). In 2018, they awarded three grants, totaling $1,220 to fund ‘Arm Us With Literature,’ (Amanda Killeen); ‘Expanding Expression’ (Mendy Biege); and Equipment for ‘Bal-A-Vis-X’ (Marcee Murray King).
NCCEF will hold a silent auction fundraiser at the Friday and Saturday showings of the North Crawford Playhouse’s production of the musical ‘Nunsense’ coming up this week. The showings will take place on Thursday, Nov. 7; Friday, Nov. 8; and a matinee and evening show on Saturday, Nov. 9.
A quilted throw, a variety of local food specialties, and decorative pieces are just some of the items that will be included in the silent auction
“The silent auction will help support NCCEF,” NCCEF board member Sharon Murphy said. “NCCEF funds scholarships and innovative projects and programs at the school. Don’t miss the show and the auction!”
2018 teacher grants
Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen and School Counselor, PK- 5th Grade Zoe Ellerbusch were co-applicants to NCCEF for a grant entitled, ‘Arm us with Literature: Read Alouds for Social Emotional Development.’ Their project description reads as follows:
“Our society is changing and so our schools must support students through those changes. This project will provide 45 books with stories focused on understanding emotions, regulating reactions, the emotional wellbeing of ourselves and others, showing compassion and seeing positivity in ourselves and our world. Elementary aged children have big feelings that they don't always know what to do with. It is our job to teach them. It is important that we provide students with literature that will encourage positive social emotional growth. These read aloud texts will be available for all teachers to use with their classes. Some may be used for a whole class read aloud, others may be helpful to read with small groups that are working on the particular skill, while others may be best suited to read one on one with students.”
Killeen noted that North Crawford’s library already had a few books of the kind targeted by the project, but they were scattered throughout the library.
“By gathering all of those books into one section in the library we made them much more accessible for students, teachers and families,” Killeen explained. “This has proved to be a great things for families to use at home, which extends the educational value beyond the school day.”
Some of the titles included in the library include:
• ‘My Mouth is a Volcano,’ which teaches children about interrupting
• ‘Wilma Jean the Worry Machine,’ which teaches children about anxiety
• ‘Kindness Starts with You – At School,’ which teaches children about kindness and social skills
• ‘Soda Pop Head,’ which teaches children about impulse control and anger
“We feel very grateful to have been given the resources to build our small social emotional learning book collection. The books are used by teachers, students, and families to address specific behaviors and learn about mindfulness and positive coping skills,” School Counselor, PK- 5th Grade Zoe Ellerbusch said. “The books also help support the Second Step curriculum that I teach weekly to students.”
Second Step Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) gives students the tools to excel in and out of the classroom. Their easy-to-teach program garners outstanding reviews from educators who’ve noticed school-wide improvement and see even the most challenging students make progress in emotion management, situational awareness, and academic achievement.
According to Ellerbusch, the four main units of North Crawford’s ‘Second Step’ curriculum are: skills for learning, empathy, emotion regulation, and problem solving,
“The library also supports our Zones of Regulation classroom interventions,” Ellerbusch explained. “It has been a great tool to have at our fingertips that bridges social emotional learning with reading--two of our main focus areas as a district.”
Special Education teacher Marcee Murray-King received a grant from NCCEF to purchase a ‘Bal-A-Vis-X’ system for use with the students in her classroom.
“We find this helps for many different reasons. First of all, every type of student with every type of ability can benefit from this program,” said Jackie Pettit, the paraprofessional in Murray-King’s classroom. “We use it as a way to get all of the students involved in one thing, regardless of their diagnosis or age. Bal A Vis X can bring our classroom together as a team. We also use it to strengthen eye muscles. This helps for reading and other academics.”
Pettit said that the special education staff have also found it to be beneficial when students need a break.
“When they are working on a test or are struggling emotionally, we use this as a way to get away from that for just a few minutes,” Pettit said. “We realized it can help reset their brain. Once the student does this for about three minutes, many times the students are able to come back and get back to work.”
Bal-A-Vis-X stands for “balance, auditory, visual and exercises.’ Using the system of sandbags, raquet balls and balance boards requires focus and demands cooperation. Teachers in other school districts who have implemented the program have seen discipline issues decrease and test scores increase.
On the company’s website, Bal-A-Vis-X is described as a series of some 300 exercises, most of which are done with sand-filled bags and/or racquetballs, often while standing on a Bal-A-Vis-X balance board. Requiring multiple thousands of mid-line crossings in three dimensions, the exercises are steadily rhythmic, with a pronounced auditory foundation, executed at a pace that naturally results from proper physical techniques. Bal-A-Vis-X enables the whole mind-body system to experience the symmetrical flow of a pendulum.
The carefully modulated system of exercises can become increasingly complex or increasingly simplified/modified for those with severe special needs. In group settings, the program demands cooperation, promotes self-challenge, and fosters peer teaching.
North Crawford Speech and Language Pathologist Mendy Biege applied for and received a grant from NCCEF to purchase ‘Expanding Expression Tool’ (EET) materials and manipulatives for classroom teachers to use with their students.
“Language is the heart of all curricular areas. Having a tool such as EET that will assist students with organizing their thoughts can positively impact their academic success,” Biege explained. “EET is a multi-sensory program that teachers can use to help students with speaking and writing.”
Another way to describe the classroom tool is as a ‘re-telling chain.’ The tool, according to Elementary Principal Amanda Killeen, helps children learn to tell a story, think critically, and will ultimately build writing and speaking skills.
“I have used the EET with several of my students over the past few years, and have seen them make gains in their ability to answer questions and provide more details in their responses,” Biege said. “The EET can be adapted to be used by all grade levels, from preschool through high school, and beyond. There is even a testimonial on the EET webpage of it making the ACT easier.”
Beige said that in the first year, two elementary classroom teachers were trained in the use of the EET and given the manipulatives for their classroom use. They both used the EET to structure how their students would share what they had brought for sharing time. This year, Biege has expanded the use of EET to structure a weekly writing lesson in one the third grade classrooms.“I appreciate the generosity of the NCCEF for providing the funds to purchase the EET materials,” Biege expressed. “I believe that by providing the funds, teachers can be given a simple and practical tool that is effective in increasing the language expression of all students.”