Monday, September 21, 2015

Student-Centered, Story-Driven Community Grants Awarded to Deserving Teachers

The American Immigration Council is proud to announce the winners of the 2015-2016 Community Grants Program. The grant program is an initiative to provide educators and/or community organizers with the resources they need to implement a successful immigration curriculum or community-based project.

This year’s winners have developed student-centered storytelling projects that engage students and families in writing and sharing immigration stories, past and present, while also demonstrating the important and varied contributions of immigrants to our country. The awardees are Eldridge Park School, Lawrenceville, NJ and Charles F. Patton Middle School, Kennett Square, Pennsylvania. 

According to Eldridge Park English Language Learner teacher Angeline Sturgis, “my objective in this project is to create a legacy for family members which clearly documents the motives, decision-making, action, and often bravery, that led to their arrival in this country, and the beginning of their lives as new Americans. I have realized that these stories go untold, especially to children, and believe that they can and should be recorded in some way. My idea combines the parents' stories with the artwork of their children for a truly cooperative effort that will be received by the community with awe and pride.” The intended result of Ms. Sturgis’s grant project, “Telling the Family Story,” will be a small library of student and parent authored books that can be shared among school and community members.  She also hopes to host an author reading.

The focus of “One World,” a project developed by middle school English Language Arts teacher Brian Kelley, is a student-centered and student-run classroom podcast modeled after Garrison Keillor’s podcast “The Writer’s Almanac.” These short podcasts would feature students discussing writing, books, immigrant family heritage and culture with an aim to exploring how culture influences youth and writers. Each podcast would also feature student writing. Eventually, Kelley has plans to see his students spreading the word about the podcast via social media and encouraging students from all over to send in their writing and to promote deeper discussions on culture and immigration. You can follow the project twitter account @Write1World  and visit the One World website which welcomes teens to submit essays, poetry, & short stories focused on family, culture, or heritage. 

Kelley has previously collaborated with the American Immigration Council providing accounts of his experience teaching digital storytelling on immigrant family heritage with students. To read his teaching tips, please click here.

Senior Manager of Education Claire Tesh, says, “Our grant program rewards classroom teachers and community leaders who have innovative ideas in integrating immigration issues into their teaching. In return, the American Immigration Council shares their results with the greater public through lesson plans, multimedia and other projects.”  Please join us in celebrating these two noteworthy projects and stay tuned as we follow their developments in the classroom.

For over the past decade, the American Immigration Council has been providing educators with funding for projects that support its mission of promoting the benefits of immigrants to our nation. This collaboration with motivated educators across the nation engages students and communities in thoughtful dialogues centered on the issue of immigration and multiculturalism. 

Please share this post with fellow educators to spread the word about the great work of these teachers.  To learn more about our 2015-2016 grant programs and resources, including how to apply, please click here. Our next deadline is November 5, 2015. Congratulations to our deserving and inspirational teachers!

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