After the decisions have been made and the checks have been sent, that's when the fun really starts as the schools go MAD with their grants. We love to hear how MAD Grants are being used. Here’s what a few of our recipients had to tell us:
Thank you very much for your very generous MAD Grant. Your gift allowed our children to participate in a wonderful project which otherwise would have been eliminated this year. Our project was highly successful and we had three top winners at the Oregon Ceramic Show!
…This project created a strong bond between families and schools. It helped create collaboration between many of the staff members. It helped create a tie with the community at large. Most important it gave each and every child who participated a sense of pride and accomplishment and memories that will last the rest of their lives.
Second Grade Teacher
Dear Mr. Blumenthal and Ms. Tangeman,
As principal of Grout Elementary School I represent the staff in expressing our gratitude for the two MAD Grants we received. Two members of our staff wrote the grant applications independently on behalf of this school and more specifically, the student body.
Thank you for caring enough about our public schools and those learning, playing, working, nurturing, growing, and teaching within the buildings. I applaud you for having found a way to extend this caring attitude by reaching out with your innovative grant idea. May I offer my recognition and praise for funding areas in Portland's schools which budget cuts have necessitated neglecting. It saddens us all to realize that many of these previously common areas in educational funding have now been termed 'extras'.
One such example is piano tuning. While this seems like such a small concern compared to class size or availability of textbooks, the impact is school-wide. As the coffers dwindle, so does school spirit, affecting morale and the building's environment. Now imagine the entire student body gathered in the auditorium for a school spirit assembly raising their voices in unison to the accompaniment of a tuned piano.
Another scenario might be set in a first grade classroom. The students are all gathered cross-legged on the floor surrounding their teacher who is at the piano. They are excited because she is teaching them a song in preparation for an open house performance for their parents.
Thank you for providing not just funds, but also helping schools retain a degree of pride and thank you also for recognizing that none can know better where school funds are best utilized and most needed than those working directly with the students. We are fortunate indeed to have such educators as Ms. Marion Lei, First Grade Teacher, who took the initiative to obtain funding for her project that has enhanced the entire school.
Ms. Barbara Wolfsong, the other MAD Grant recipient from Grout, is a perfect example of the unsung heroes in our schools. Her commitment makes me cognizant of the tremendous responsibility placed on us in the development of attitudes by which these youngsters will shape their futures. We value her enthusiasm and willingness to share her knowledge of computers with the students.
Ms. Wolfsong is running our computer lab this year and has used the grant funds she received to upgrade memory. The student computers in our training lab didn't have enough memory to access the Internet, making it difficult for Ms. Wolfsong to teach web research or share her enthusiasm about technology. The students she works with are now very happily at work on their web-based projects in a functional computer-training lab.
Grout Elementary School
Just a quick note of THANKS for the support this year! My mini grant from you allowed me to create the “Ribbit Times” weekly and this “Frog Class Yearbook” for the entire class. The kids and their families love it! With your funding I was able to purchase 4 photo printer ink cartridges, 1 large pack of photo paper, and the developing of 5+ rolls of film. Not only did your support encourage my photography however, my students became quite the little photographers as well. One boy in particular (in Special Needs programs) had the choice of taking photos daily (in May and June) if he acted responsibly and got his work done daily. It worked!
Thank you so much for supporting the schools in a time when it’s more needed than ever!
Mrs. Erin Zackey and her “froggy” students
Beverly Park School
Our tape recorders have finally been delivered, and they are beautiful. We will be all set up next fall to begin checking them out so that all of our students can benefit from our “talking books” at home. In the last few months we have received 8 newcomer students with almost no English, and in the fall when our school merges with a smaller school, which is being closed, we will have 25 additional students. You can see that our tape recorders will be put to good use!
I so appreciate your generosity in providing these. Particularly I appreciate the simplicity of the process which makes it “doable” for those of us who are unfamiliar with grant writing. You are doing much good with this money.
Thank you again, from the bottom of our hearts.
Cynthia Bauer and ELL Students
Daniel A. Grout Elementary School
Thanks to this grant and the Highline Foundation grant, my 13 fourth and fifth grade reading focus class and the 25 first graders down the hall had a great time finding out about a variety of animals.
My older children learned to research books, encyclopedias, magazines, and the Internet to find information on an animal of their choice that resides at Woodland Park Zoo. The students took notes, wrote rough and final drafts (published in a book form), wrote out a bibliography, made maps, and attempted to draw realistic pictures of their animals. For all of these kids this was the first time they had completed such an extensive report. The progress they made in note taking and paragraph writing was strong and they were very proud of their work. Reading skills improved as the kids practiced the skills of skimming, rereading for specific information, understanding new vocabulary, and using the parts of a nonfiction and/or reference book to find specific information. Most of the children took Accelerated Reading tests on their books and passed with an average of 80% accuracy. It is hard to measure the pride and enthusiasm they displayed when sharing their final reports with others.
As far as making a difference in learning and teaching; I feel the older students felt like they were taking charge of their learning in a manner that was new to them. They were responsible for learning about their animal and they were curious. I believe they felt empowered when they realized they had information that the younger students didn't know, their classmates weren't aware of, and even their teacher didn't always know about! They felt like experts, and for some of these learners, this was a first! As for an impact in my teaching I would continue to search for good nonfiction books at an easier reading level so the older students that struggle with reading would have more resources.
In fact, I have done some of that with the extra grant money that was not spent on the zoo field trip. I asked our school librarian, Michael Thorson, to take those funds and buy some high interest, lower reading level, nonfiction books. They just came in and they are great!
On behalf of my students and myself, thank you so much for the grant funding.
Valley View Elementary
First I wanted to give you a huge thank you for the MAD Grant. It was definitely an “up” in a year of “down” in our district. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to better serve my students with this great piece of innovative equipment.
I wanted to share with you some of the things we have been doing with the Omnikin ball. I have used it for fitness. We have played blob tag as well as other tag with all k-8 students. I have been "it" as well as a student or two. Everyone has had a wonderful time and I do not think they realize what a great cardiovascular work out they get. We have done some cooperative activities called Donut, Indiana Jones, and planet drop. We have also played some team games of crab soccer, giant team 4 square, against the wall, and of course the game of Kin ball itself. The best thing is that the creativity abounds for different activities that can be adapted to the Omnikin ball. The students all love it and they have called it the "Pepto Bismol" ball due to its pink color. They all feel successful and feel like they want to participate. I know it is successful when they hate to see it go away for a few days.
Thank you again for this wonderful gift.
Sincerely Colleen Dixon
Brooklyn/ Winterhaven School
I would like to thank you for your support of my first grade reading program. I have received the materials and the children especially seem to enjoy the Phonics program for the computer. Other children have taken home audiocassettes to further practice their fluency.
Thank you again,
First Grade Teacher
White Center Heights School
As a result of your generosity through MAD Grants, my students are taking large strides towards becoming proficient with today's technology. Our classroom has come alive with computers and mathematical software! Students who had little interest in learning and refining their basic math skills have literally jumped at the opportunity to use technology to enhance their learning. With enjoyable, interactive software on multiple computers, students can perform activities and assess their knowledge. They become aware of their areas of strength and/or weakness with individualized, computer generated reports. This would not have been possible without the help of MAD Grants. The sixth graders and I want to thank you immensely for your generosity.
Sixth Grade Teacher
Thank you for providing the MAD Grants.
It was fun for me to think about the grant, and my students have been enthusiastically using the mechanical Legos. All of the boxes are getting used every day, and they are discussing how to make them work.
I am enclosing a short personal video for you to see some of what we are doing…
Dear MAD Grant Folks,
My class of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders were thrilled when I told them we had been awarded a grant again this year. They were enthusiastic when I said we would be learning about the sea life of Puget Sound, sharing their knowledge in report form with the first graders, and going to the Seattle Aquarium together. The older students spent several weeks reading, taking notes, rough drafting, final drafting, recording a bibliography, and illustrating a cover and title page for their report. The covers were laminated and the reports comb bound to form a nice book that my students were proud of. The first grade teacher and I sat down and teamed our children into working groups of two or three. A couple of days before the field trip the two classes got together in their teams. My students shared their reports with the younger students and asked them questions to see if the youngers understood. It appeared they did and my olders were pleased; it was great to see the olders take the role of teacher and be successful at it! On the day of the field trip the teams ate lunch together and off we went to the aquarium. We had a touch tank class first and the kids went around in their groups observing and touching a variety of invertebrates. No squeamish kids, they got right in there and explored. My students were pleased to actually see and touch some of the animals they had been reporting on; it made the sea life more real. When the kids went together to tour the actual aquarium, they were thrilled with the tide pool exhibit where once again they could see and touch more of the animals. The sea otters, harbor seals, and tropical fish (like the Finding Nemo fish) were also big hits.
The next day the classes got together and created a school bulletin board using cut paper to create an "underwater" scene with the animals they saw at the aquarium. Big Critters and Little Critters-the sea life or the kids? Thank you once again for the grant opportunity where I could make the student's learning more realistic and valuable.
Valley View Elementary
Thank you so much for the MAD Grant Award in the amount of $250.00 for tuning our school pianos. Enclosed are an invitation and a program of “Our Spring Show,” which my first graders will be performing. Enclosed is also an article from a local newspaper about our students’ performance before the new superintendent for Portland Public Schools and school board members. It’s so nice to hear children sing to the accompaniment of a well-tuned piano!
Grout Elementary School
I am so excited! The students are going to enjoy checking their work. Fourth Grade is very pleased that you considered us for your grant. WASL is going to have all the manipulatives it needs.
Seahurst Elementary School
Dear Chris Blumenthal and Nanci Tangeman,
Thank you so much for the MAD Grant to Irvington for our animal project. We really appreciate that support to keep this program going. We have 9 classrooms involved and after we got the grant, a couple more teachers expressed interest in joining us since the financial commitment won’t be as great. They would be willing to care for and summer maintain with the added financial help of not having to constantly buy the food.
It is so wonderful that you provide this support. Yesterday was animal rotation day. Several of my students were sad to see our rats go but were so excited to see we now have a tree frog and tarantula. I think the tarantula provides that sort of safe/scary feeling akin to a scary movie you’ve seen before.
Thanks again and we hope you continue to do this super generous work.
Lent students and I are so pleased with the new equipment your program has provided for us! Thank you so much! We were fortunate to use two companies that provided free shipping, which allowed us several extra items from our wish list. We just began a volleyball unit and are so pleased with our "child-friendly" volleyballs and 2 new standards that provide adjustable support for volleyball, badminton and pickleball nets.
We ordered two dozen small hoops, which will work perfectly for our kindergarten and first grade children, some of whom are smaller than the standard size hoops! Extra jump ropes in short and long lengths will serve the rapidly-improving classes and jump rope club that has been formed. The jump rope book we ordered has wonderful and challenging stunts and routines. These students are fabulous with their innovation of jump rope stunts! The club attracted 30 students in the first two weeks. Several students in PE classes who could not jump at all quickly learned basics. What a reward to see the smiles on their faces when they yelled, "Look, I jumped without missing!" I'm looking forward to using the set of belts and flags to make tagging games safer. We also received foam bats and balls in 6 different colors that will be fun to use in small groups. Short hockey sticks will be used for scooter hockey, a favorite of many. The new pinnies are great; bright purple and red! Kindergarten classes will have fun with rhythmic sticks in bright colors along with a great CD. The extra birdies, fleece and whiffle balls will be put to use often. We are so happy with our innovative, fun and colorful equipment! Thank you again for your kind generosity!
K-5 PE teacher