Teacher Appreciation Month – Grants Improve Classroom Learning Experiences

When a few students begin to chatter during a silent reading period, Ben Domonkos effortlessly weaves lessons on manners into the assignment. In a moment, he tells his fourth-grade class, pointing to the miniature scoreboard in the corner of the classroom, he will release them to write.

Teaching is anything, but a chore for Domonkos – or “Mr. D” as he is affectionately known – who was named 2018 Teacher of the Year by the South Bend Community School Corp. The fourth-grade teacher at Tarkington Traditional School, received a $1,000 grant that he can apply toward professional development, as well as a plaque and golden apple.

Like many instructors who will be honored during Teacher Appreciation Month in May, Domonkos is considered “an amazing educator,” one the Indiana school “is fortunate to have.”

At a time when many schools across the nation are confronting budget squeezes that prohibit advanced learning techniques, Domonkos regularly writes and submits grant applications to external funding sources for new classroom tools or equipment.

Libby Hikind, founder and CEO of GrantWatch.com, said forward-thinking teachers like Domonkos are always looking for innovative methods to expand instruction and engage students. But, these efforts typically require money from sources other than the school district. To help streamline the search process, GrantWatch lists the most up-to-date funding opportunities that can help teachers reduce the expenses involved with implementing their strategies.

Grants for Teachers: 

Grants for public school teachers for the improvement of education, grants for classroom supplies, innovative teaching strategies and professional development teaching opportunities. Find classroom grants for school funding, grants to public school educators to enhance teaching, provide support for STEM professionals and for the pursuit of careers in teaching.

GrantWatch provides access to funds from a variety of sources including federal and local governments, private corporations, nonprofits and foundations. Thousands of dollars are available to fund professional development, classroom enrichment, humanities and STEM, school supplies, field trips and anything else that helps teachers to do their jobs.

For John Forish, a graphic arts instructor, and Beth Lancaster, head of the science department, starting a fishing club would be a path for their students at Naugatuck High School in Connecticut to get outside and learn about conservation. A grant from the Naugatuck Education Foundation provided $4,083 that not only covered the cost of fishing poles, but enough money to purchase water quality monitoring equipment and an underwater drone for club members to both find fish and study their movements.

The Naugatuck Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization that raises money to provide grants for education programs in borough public schools that go above and beyond what is funded through the annual budget. Grants are awarded through an application process.

Hikind, a former teacher who raised more than $11 million for a New York City school district, said those educators who can creatively express the need for a sustainable project that benefits the most students over the longest time will be the most successful. The first step, she said, is to create a detailed need. Once a project is defined, GrantWatch can be accessed to identify a funding source.

The first grant Libby wrote in 1984 was to Tandy Corporation to prove that their Model 100 could be used in the educational community. The TRS-80 Model 100 is a portable computer introduced in 1983. It is one of the first notebook-style computers, featuring a keyboard and liquid crystal display, in a battery-powered package roughly the size and shape of a notepad or large book. The $15,000 grant outfitted her classroom and Hikind was able to to teach written communication skills through word processing.

Domonkos, who enjoys mixing new technology with pencils and notebooks into his lesson plan, encourages other faculty members to apply for educational grants for their classrooms or schools. A $20,000 grant that he applied for and received has provided Chromebook mini-laptops and training for his classroom. An earlier grant allowed him to trade out traditional desks for a variety of tables with whiteboard surfaces.

As a result, his students get to choose where they want to learn and how they want to collaborate; sitting at tables or with peers; writing on the table surface with an erasable marker, standing up while conducting research through Chromebook, or sitting crossed-legged on the floor reading.

Educators, school administrators, parent teacher organizations and nonprofits determined to reduce the costs associated with improving classroom learning experiences can streamline their search for external funds by turning to GrantWatch.com, which lists easy to read and simple to comprehend grant applications. Sign-up here to receive the weekly GrantWatch newsletter which features geographic-specific funding opportunities.

About the Author: Staff Writer at GrantWatch