By ZEINAB NAJM
Sunday Times Newspapers
Four teachers in Allen Park and Riverview were awarded $2,500 grants for innovative teaching ideas by State Farm through the 2021 Teacher Assist program.
Allen Park High School Special Education teacher Kate Pearson, APHS English teachers Casandra Melville and Rebeca Lazarean and STEM Educator and Riverview Community School District Consultant Amy Farkas at Seitz Middle School were the local winners.
Lazarean and Melville teach ninth- and 12th-graders at APHS and applied for one grant together to use in the school’s English Department for the 2021-22 school year.
They plan to use the funds for One School, One Book where they provide book copies to all students at APHS while encouraging students to talk, collaborate and build literacy in the process.
Pearson plans to use the $2,500 grant for her 9th- through 12th-grade autistic students to create a business within the classroom — either a coffee or snack cart.
Pearson said the business will help students learn mental skills and learn to be independent and social while learning how to handle money and speak to people.
“We’re super grateful that Allen Park High School has not one, but two winners,” Pearson said. “I’m excited to put the money to use for the benefit of our students and grateful that State Farm chose to provide money to educators.”
Teachers across the state were invited to submit their innovative teaching ideas to State Farm from Jan. 11 to 15. A total of 200 submissions were accepted and 40 total grant recipients were chosen.
State Farm awarded $100,000 in grants to teachers to implement their innovative ideas in Michigan classrooms through the program.
Pearson said the application process was relatively easy. She applied after the school district sent out an email regarding the program in January. To apply, teachers answered questions provided by State Farm in an essay, including what they would do with the funding and how it would impact their students.
In early February, State Farm Insurance Agent Leonard Crosby presented the winning teachers with a certificate as an acknowledgment for winning their grant.
“As a company, we have a long history of working with teachers, educators, and students across the country,” State Farm Senior Vice President Annette Martinez said in a news release. “We are heartened by the immense response received from teachers sharing their solutions to overcoming challenges.
“Congratulations to the winners. We are proud to support you and help you reach your goals.”
For a compete list of Michigan winners go to www.newsroom.statefarm.com/mi-teacher-assist.
(Zeinab Najm can be reached at [email protected])