What Are Teacher Mini-Grants?
The Operation Round Up Board of Directors initiated a program offering small, $500 grants to teachers. Grants were available to K-12 teachers in math or language arts for the 2016-2017 school year. The funds are made available by South Plains Electric members who ask to have their monthly bill rounded up to the next dollar. The extra change, averaging only $6 per year, funds projects like the teacher mini-grants, scholarships and much more.
Operation Round Up was established in 1993 to help communities and individuals needing a hand up, not a hand out. The program’s tagline, “neighbors helping neighbors,” is at the heart of why South Plains Electric Cooperative exists.
During the past 24 years, Operation Round Up has helped hundreds of individuals and organizations. Many donations go unpublicized out of respect for the individual recipients. Operation Round Up, under the guidance of a 10-member board, sometimes works quietly to improve members’ lives.
Nine teacher mini-grants were awarded for the 2016-2017 school year. The other recipients were: Amy Drake, Lubbock ISD; Amanda Dunn, Lubbock-Cooper ISD; Kara Gibson, Shallowater ISD; Ollie Hart, Abernathy ISD; Morgan Hisey, Lubbock-Cooper ISD; Lisa Sanders, Cotton Center ISD; Jana Simmons, Lubbock-Cooper ISD; and Carol Trent, Shallowater ISD.
The Operation Round Up board approved the continued funding of the teacher mini-grants because it’s been such a successful program. Applications for reading and social studies are available at www.SPEC.coop for the 2017-2018 school year. The deadline is May 15.
How You Can Contribute
If all of our members were participating in Operation Round Up, we would have over $200,000 a year to give back to our local communities. You can sign up for Operation Round Up online or by calling 806.775.7766. You may also sign up by checking the Operation Round Up box on your monthly bill.
Mrs. Rodriguez’s Story
Jennifer Rodriguez is a fourth grade teacher at Lubbock-Cooper ISD and is a 2016-2017 Operation Round Up Teacher Mini-Grant recipient. Rodriguez feels that, as an educator, if she is not striving to make learning fun for her students, she is failing them. With the grant money she received, Rodriguez purchased iPads, and the students utilize them on a daily basis. This integration of technology has aided in creating a fun, interactive learning environment for the students. Because of the mini-grant, Rodriguez has achieved her goal of making learning fun.
“It is not a surprise that the children in my classroom are absolutely infused with technology,” the fourth-grade teacher said.
To get better use of the new equipment, Rodriguez has incorporated the iPads in a few subjects within her classroom curriculum, such as math and social studies. Occasionally, the iPads are even used during classroom free time. The students have since adapted to a new, engaging way of learning and interacting.
Rodriguez’s students use the iPads daily in math stations. After learning a new mathematics concept, the students use a downloadable app on the iPad that fosters their learning and encourages a deeper understanding of the concept. Math stations also include partner work between the students, which the kids are very fond of because they are able to play against one another.
The iPads also serve as a great way to get a better understanding of a certain topic, such as the geography of Texas. Rodriguez said her students used their iPads for social studies research when she was teaching about the four regions of Texas, and they are preparing to use them for more research toward the end of the year to complete their “Famous Texans” projects.
Rodriguez utilizes the iPads to project information off of the smart board in her classroom using Airplay. She can also set up Kahoot! games, where students must answer her questions correctly to receive points. The iPads allow Rodriguez and her students the ability to utilize all of their Google tools with ease due to the district’s recent transition to all things Google.
“We are able to take what would normally be on a sheet of paper or within a workbook and bring it to life through apps and features,” Rodriguez said. “It is absolutely amazing to see their interest sparked when utilizing the iPads to complete a task. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”