TFAE Grants in Action
LOCAL TEACHERS SHOWOFF THEIR INNOVATIONS
Terrebonne Foundation for Academic Excellence (TFAE) awarded just over $77,000 in grants to Terrebonne Parish public school teachers for the 2019-2020 school year.
Ten teachers received the TFAE Innovative Ed-Venture Grant, which “encourages teachers to submit bold and innovative ideas and projects that would actively engage their students.” The grants ranged from $263.14 to $14,400.92.
Earlier this month, a few of the recipients shared stories on how the grants are helping their students learn and grow.
Terrebonne High School science teacher Rayemona Boyd received the highest grant, $14,400.92, for her proposal titled “Data Quest.” The grant’s supplies include LabQuest units, charging stations, LabQuest software, radiation monitor unit, melt station, dissolved oxygen probes and gas probes, among other items. The tools are used by six classes in three grades, which is over 750 students.
Boyd said her students are catching on to the new technology quickly. “My Chemistry II kids are excited. They’re learning it faster than I am,” she said. “They’re teaching me how to use it, which is awesome. When they turn around and become the teachers, that’s totally a teachable moment.”
Boyd said the grant will help her students be better prepared for science courses at the next level, too.
“High school and college are two different worlds, so anything I can do to kind of bridge that gap for them is where I’m headed,” she said. “My goal is to help my science students go into the college science lab and be proficient.”
Bayou Black Elementary librarian Trisha Authement included a mixture of technology and non-technological items in her proposal, “Library of the Future.” The grant is helping her to create a makerspace library that’s allowing students to think critically, collaborate, problem solve, code, create and develop the skills needed to be lifelong learners.
“A lot of the jobs now require computer skills, engineering, things like that,” Authement said. “I also thought it would help get the kids more excited about reading, because if you incorporate the literature with the hands-on, you can get them reading.”
Students are learning in the makerspace by using such things as iPads, games and Legos. The latter of which Authement incorporated when she read them the book “Iggy Peck, Architect.” After the group discussed the book, the children had to build a bridge with Legos that had to be a certain height and width.
“They were using measuring skills; they were incorporating critical thinking,” Authement said. “It got them excited about reading the book and building the bridge. It also gets them excited about jobs for their future, too, because they’re learning about what architects do.”
Not only are this year’s TFAE Innovative Ed-Venture Grants getting students excited about science and reading but also exercise.
Pointe-Aux-Chenes Elementary physical education teacher Leslie Clement was able to purchase Fitness Frenzy, a life-sized board game that uses movement to play in physical education classes. Clement said her students quickly took a liking to the game the morning she introduced it; she said they kept asking, “How long do we have left?” and “How many times can we go?”
“[Fitness Frenzy] is very good for cardio-respiratory and building up endurance, which is important,” Clement said. “At their age, they like to play video games, so we need to get them moving.”
Clement said for physical education classes people might feel that all you need to do is to go outside, but she explained there’s more to it than that. “It’s not just me giving them a ball; they’re learning skills,” she said.
“For a lot of our schools, especially where I am, the kids aren’t exposed to a lot of these things,” Clement said on the importance teachers receiving grants. “They wouldn’t be exposed to these certain learning skills if I didn’t receive this grant.”
Since 2012, the local non-profit TFAE has awarded over $1 million grant dollars to Terrebonne Parish public school teachers. TFAE’s grants are funded through donations made to the organization’s endowment, Academic Excellence Fund, as well as direct donations to the grant program.
When someone donates to the fund, their investment goes to TFAE’s principal and stays there in perpetuity. The interest earned from this account is used to fund the grants. The goal for the endowment is $2 million, which is approximately $100 per student that is enrolled in Terrebonne public schools. TFAE will be celebrating its 30th year in the school year of 2020-2021 and will be launching a campaign to reach the $2 million goal by year’s end, which the organization needs less than $100,000 to achieve.
“We are so grateful for the support of the many businesses, organizations and individuals who have made contributions and continue to support TFAE and local education,” TFAE Executive Director Katie Portier said.
Anyone who would like to donate to the endowment to help TFAE fund grants for local public school teachers can contact Portier at 985.868.5881 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Our endowment is vital to our organization. The community’s support over the last 30 years to our endowment is the reason we continue to have such a big impact in education,” Portier said. “The more we continue to grow that fund, the more we can give back every year for generations.” •