Navasota grants

High Point Elementary students and staff members stand with members of the Navasota ISD Education Foundation to receive $10,062 check from the foundation. The money will go toward getting The World According to Humphrey books for elementary students in the district and help foster student engagement and reading in the community.

NAVASOTA — The Navasota ISD Education Foundation gave out more than $64,000 worth of grants Thursday to district teachers for both individual and district-wide programs.

“It is an awesome privilege to be able to bring grants to the schools and students who need them,” Navasota ISD Education Foundation Board President Marilyn Bettes said.

The philosophy of the grant program, she said, is to provide money to teachers and schools for programs the schools would not otherwise be able to fund.

As a retired teacher, Bettes called it rewarding to see the creativeness in the grant applications and how the requests will be used to help the students.

“They see the need,” she said.

High Point Elementary School first grade teacher Lauren Julian received two grants — one to help teach reading and the other to help encourage reading.

She said the Building Bookworm grant, worth $4,965, will purchase a Bookworm Vending Machine that will be stocked with books students can purchase for their home libraries using tokens.

Noting the number of low-income students at the school, Julian said the machine is a way to use books as positive reinforcement.

“This is putting books in kids’ hands, rewarding them for goals that they’ve reached, positive behavior, being a good friend,” she said.

The PTO and principal have said they will help purchase the books to stock the vending machine, and other community members also have offered to donate books. The machine will include both English and Spanish language books, she said.

Julian’s second grant, written with reading specialist Kelli Lara and worth $1,979, will purchase SnapWord cards for kindergarten, first grade and second grade classrooms. The cards give teachers a way to teach sight words that include pictures and kinesthetic movement.

“It’s helping kids see high-frequency words and make them more meaningful so that they can remember them,” Julian said, noting a first grader can see and be expected to learn up to 100 sight words in one year.

At Navasota High School, Stephanie Fitzsimon received a grant of $1,907 that will help bring to life the school’s production of the musical Little Shop of Horrors.

“Musicals are fairly new to Navasota,” she said, noting the school has only done one for a couple years. “Before I came, they only did junior musicals, and then we tried to get full-length ones going, and we’re growing the program. This is exciting for them.”

For many of the theater students, the high school production and drama classes might be the only time they are exposed to theater.

The money will provide costumes and the materials needed to create the puppets for the show, which Fitzsimon will start next week and continue with the students when they return from the Thanksgiving break.

“I taught for 10 years [at another school] with zero budget, and I was just making stuff and pulling it wherever I could,” she said. “… I think every school needs this, because it means that we can do the bigger projects that we want to do because we get budgets and we do fundraisers, but it’s nice to know that they care enough to come fund a big project for us, so we can make it good for the community.”

Navasota High School’s production of Little Shop of Horrors will run from Dec. 12-14.

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