Aurora Schools Foundation awards grants to teachers

by MIKE LESKO | REPORTER Published:

Aurora -- The Aurora Schools Foundation recently approved $4,000 in grants for five teachers' requests for various enhancement programs in the schools.

The grants were awarded to:

• Lauren McMahon, Harmon, for math sharing technology, $950.

• Jodi Roscoe and Kim Albrecht, Craddock, for a summer slide safety net program for first- and second-graders, $980.

• Lisa Leone, Craddock, for math assessment and diagnostic materials for first-grade math intervention, $550.

• Keri Stoyle, Leighton, for additional project-based mathematical technology for 21st century written math expression, $920.

• Lois Schroeder-Girbino, Leighton, for a special mural wall project called "Celebrating Community," $600.

The grants were part of a program made available by the foundation in early January where any Aurora schools staff member could apply for grant funding to initiate special enhancement programs for students, according to Gary Brookhart, past president of the foundation and a current trustee.

Brookhart said on Feb. 15, the foundation's trustees, following the recommendation of the grant committee that reviewed the applications, awarded grants to five out of seven requests.

The foundation also annually awards four $2,000 checks to the schools -- one each to the high school, Harmon and Leighton, plus to either Craddock or Miller -- for disbursement at their discretion for special programs.

THE FOUNDATION receives its money from donations. This was the first time since 2008 that the foundation opened up grant funding for applications by staff members, Brookhart said.

"Just like many other non-profits, the foundation tightened its belt financially at the beginning of the recession and reduced our grant allocations to the schools," Brookhart said. "Although we're not out of the woods yet, we're seeing an improved financial climate and felt it was time to expand our support to the schools through these grants [for teachers]."

Tom Carr, president of the foundation, praised Brookhart for his leadership with the grant committee and for the committee's "thorough development of the grant application."

"The grant committee quickly initiated the application process, allowing the awarding of the grants in the current school year," Carr said. "The Aurora Schools Foundation is appreciative of the support from our community, which provides funding necessary to support the grants."

Brookhart, a co-founder of the organization, said the grants "are just part of our activities. Since 1994, we have consistently provided funding for various projects throughout the school district."

He said the projects have included thousands of dollars in scholarships and grants as well as spearheading the brick campaign for the Linda Tacl Allenspach community patio -- known as "Linda's Place" -- just north of the concession stand at Veterans Field.

Mrs. Allenspach, who died in 2008, was a long-time school volunteer and former president of the schools foundation. She was a 1968 Aurora High School graduate.

"WE ALSO serve as a logistical 'home base' for other school booster groups and their combined activities like the annual 'ultimate booster' membership campaign," he said.

The ultimate booster campaign is the annual merged membership drive conducted jointly by the sports, band, choir and orchestra boosters, where people can write one check -- thus becoming an ultimate booster -- and support all four organizations.

"Like any 501(c) 3 organization, our overall mission is to raise substantial money for our endowment funds as well as other dedicated short- and long-term investment contributions that enable us to provide enhancement programs to the students in the Aurora schools now and in the future," Brookhart said.

The foundation's officers include Carr, president; Flip Eavenson, vice president; Jim Lawyer, treasurer; and Mary MacDonald, secretary.

Other members of the board of trustees are George Balog, Sheila Best, Kim Boswell, Barb Brookhart, Gary Brookhart, B.K. Hall, Andye Hayes, Diane Kohn, Linda Kovach, Gene Molnar, Matt Shanholtzer, John Sloe and Bob Tuttle.

For more information about the schools foundation, go to the website at auroraschoolsfoundation.org, email Carr at tcarr331@gmail.com or call 330-998-2185.

Email: mlesko@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9400 ext. 4187

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