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Press Release



February 25, 2010

Cowley student, KNEA-SP group implement community service program to assist local school


Cowley College education majors, active members of KNEA-SP, collaborated with Francis Willard Elementary School on a school improvement project. The project is an interdisciplinary reading program with classroom and parent activities based around children’s literature and will integrate physical education and visual art concepts. Donations received through various efforts and a grant of $1,000 from the National Education Association (NEA) Student Program's CLASS (Community Learning through America's Schools) Grant program will allow for the purchase supplies.

Wrylie Finkle, a sophomore education major at Cowley College and a member of the Lady Tiger tennis team, received word on Thursday that the “School Improvement Through Reading” grant submitted to NEA was awarded a CLASS Grant of $1,000 to go toward the project.

CLASS is simply NEA Student members volunteering time and energy to help improve their community, and at the same time, gaining practical experience and growing as professionals. NEA CLASS programs address key educational issues in the community. Since 1989, college students on more than 100 campuses across the country have become involved in giving thousands of children hope and the promise of a better tomorrow.

The NEA Student Program (NEA-SP) is a grassroots organization that serves 50,000 members nationwide—and includes students preparing for jobs in the education profession. NEA-SP goals include providing opportunities for professional development and leadership training and advocating for student members and their concerns.

Essentially the grant asked for assistance with an “out-reach-to-teach” project, which will put more books in the classrooms at Francis Willard Elementary. Education majors will develop activities and lesson plans around those books. While teachers are welcome to implement the lessons during the school day, education majors will organize several events for parents. These events will show parents various activities they can do with children at home when reading to their children.

The grant takes an interdisciplinary approach with lessons and activities integrating math, science, art, social studies and physical education. One of the results will include murals created by elementary students around children’s literature.

Another goal of the project is to include simple playground equipment like soccer balls, kick balls and tricycles. Physical Education activities will be developed around topics found within the children’s books and may include science concepts like force/motion, cause/effect, etc.

Cowley students raised $200 from the “Cowley’s Best Dance Crew” in the fall which was matched by previous KNEA-SP funds. Therefore a total of $1,400 dollars will go toward the out-reach-to-teach project. Donations and fundraising efforts are still in the works as the overall project will take close to $4,000, however this grant award will provide an opportunity to get a significant part of the project started.

According to Julie Rhoads, KNEA-SP Sponsor, “This project provides an opportunity to increase student interest in reading while integrating physical education and visual art concepts which often get overlooked with today’s high stakes system. In addition, parental involvement can be done in a fun and hands-on way with the hope they gain ideas of how to enhance the reading experience at home.”