Secretary of Education Lillian M. Lowery announced today that two districts will receive state grants to fund expanded projects to engage families and community members this academic year. Indian River School District will receive $37,705 for a "Student Success STEMs from Parental Support" educational series. Seaford School District will receive $47,476 to open an evening Homework Center and support other efforts at its Family Resource Center.
The districts submitted their winning proposals in a competitive grant process that was open to all district and charter schools. The Delaware Department of Education is funding the grants with part of the community engagement funds in the state portion of Delaware's federal Race to the Top grant. This money is in addition to the local RTTT funds district and charter schools already were awarded.
"Both districts will use this money to bring resources to families and community members to support their children's academic success," Lowery said. "They want to be involved but too often don't have the information or access to do so. As educators, we must continually look for new and innovative ways to better bridge that gap. We know this is best at the local level. These programs offer ideas that, once proven successful, could be duplicated by other districts and charter schools in the state."
Indian River already used a portion of its district RTTT funds to open its Parent Education Center in April at the Carver Center. Staffed by a community liaison, the center aims to "bridge the gap" between home and school for district families. It includes 12 computer stations with individually paced curricular for reading and math advancement and links to parenting and educational websites. Several activities already are planned for this spring, including workshops on healthy relationships, parenting and personal finance as well as a clothing closet with new and gently worn donations. Appropriate bilingual materials and translation services are provided as well.
With this new grant, the district aims to increase the role parents play in supporting student achievement and give them a "hands-on part in exploring and supporting the district's new STEM initiative." Over the course of four sessions structured around core STEM concepts, facilitators will help parents understand what a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education is and how it will help their child succeed. The sessions will "show parents the techniques to incorporate STEM into their everyday life and explain the teaching style in layman's terms that all parents could relate to," the district said in its application.
"One of the fundamentals of the STEM philosophy is integration," the district said. "And for our purposes, we believe integrating our parents and local community partners into the STEM curriculum will help our students and teachers successfully adapt to this new instructional methodology."
Seaford's grant proposal supports its Family Resource Center, which opened in September at West Seaford Elementary School. It is open from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and offers a Reading Café and Lending Library, computer center, educational and informative workshops and information about community resources and services. School guidance counselors and a family crisis therapist are available, and the district partners with community organizations such as the Parent Information Center of Delaware and Seaford Public Library for workshops.
The district will use this new grant money to open a teacher-staffed Homework Center for assignment help as well as access to computers for research. Monthly special events also will provide parents with information on issues ranging from how they can help close achievement gaps to how to prepare their children with 21st Century learning skills. Part of the grant also will be used to reach out to parents to let them know about the services available at the center.
The Delaware Department of Education will offer a second grant competition this spring for projects proposed for the 2012-13 academic year.
For more information, see Indian River and Seaford's grant applications available online here: http://www.doe.k12.de.us/rttt/award_dist_chart.shtml
Delaware Department of Education
401 Federal Street, Suite #2
Dover, Delaware 19901
Phone: (302) 735-4035
Fax: (302) 739-4654
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