Selma Unified teachers awarded grants

Wilson Elementary School teacher Diana Baruti received a grant to buy two iPads for use in her fourth-grade classroom.

Several teachers in the Selma Unified School District recently were awarded grants through the Selma Public Education Foundation. These grants are part of the fall 2013 Grants for Teachers, which is one of two rounds of grants that the Selma Public Education Foundation offers to teachers each year. The other round is offered in the spring.

The grants are awarded based on an application process.

“Every employee in the district is able to apply for the grants during the grant application time window,” said Mark Sutton, district superintendent of Selma Unified School District.

The teachers submit an application for their classroom, grade level or school site. “Usually, the committee awards two to three $1,000 grants and the remainder is given out in $500 grants,” Sutton said.

Once the applications have all been received, there is a selection committee that reads them and then chooses which applications to award the grants to. “The selection committee is comprised of representatives from all of the school sites in the district and is made up primarily by parents who have children in the school district,” Sutton said.

The selection process this time around was very competitive. “The committee ended up approving more grants than anticipated and awarded just under $10,000 in grants total,” Sutton said.

The Selma Public Education Foundation is composed of a group of concerned individuals who want to help support the school district any way that they can, Sutton said. Sutton personally started the Selma Public Education Foundation four years ago after it had been dormant for many years. “We started awarding grants back in the fall of 2010 and have done so twice a year since then. To date from 2010 to today, the foundation has awarded over $43,000 to teachers in the district,” Sutton said.

To fund these grants, the Selma Public Education Foundation holds two to three fundraisers a year and also receives contributions from employees in the district. “Currently, many of our teachers, administrators and support staff contribute to the foundation on a monthly basis through an automatic payroll deduction program,” Sutton said.

Over the next year, the foundation will be conducting several fundraisers.

In the spring, the foundation will host a jazz and wine tasting event that is held at a winery in Fresno. “This has been a tremendous event the past two years,” Sutton said.

A new event that has been added to the list of fundraisers will be a comedy night to be held Feb. 22 at the Selma Arts Center. “The evening will be called Stand-Up for Selma Schools. We are in the process of printing up the tickets and promotional posters that will be posted at school sites and throughout businesses in Selma. Much more information will be coming soon on this event,” Sutton said.

The work of the foundation has been a tremendous support to students and staff of the Selma Unified School District. “These additional funds have provided students with many different opportunities that they would not have been able to have, especially in light of the budget cuts over the past several years,” Sutton said.

Selma High School Principal Mark Babiarz said, “The support of the foundation is critical for Selma High School, as sometimes funding is stretched. ... This support allows teachers to provide students additional classroom experiences to assist with learning.”

The recipients of the 2013 Grants for Teachers are as follows:

Selma High School received three $500 grants that were awarded to Forest Castle, Khua Espinosa and Randy Stumpfhauser.

Abraham Lincoln Middle School received several grants ranging from $500 to $1,000 that were awarded to Ivette Clifton, Andrew Roche, Heather Miller, the eighth-grade Science Department and Daniel Ramming.

Garfield Elementary School received a grant for $343 that was awarded to Amber Green.

Indianola Elementary School received a grant for $429 and one for $1,000 that were awarded to Leah Waggoner and the Indianola staff.

Jackson Elementary School received a grant for $475 that was awarded to Deana Carnes.

Roosevelt Elementary School received a grant for $469 and one for $356 that were awarded to Jaci Siebert and Kristi Garcia.

Washington Elementary School received a grant for $500 that was awarded to Maricruz Cooper.

Wilson Elementary School received a grant for $300 and one for $925 that were awarded to Denae Rodriguez and Diana Baruti.

Many teachers have commented to the foundation on what a great additional support the foundation has been for their students.

According to Sutton, fourth-grade teacher Baruti just wrote to the foundation and said, “My students and I want to offer our sincere gratitude for the grant ... to purchase two iPads for our fourth-grade classroom. As we are preparing for a future led by technology, we are excited to get hands-on with technology in the classroom. All students will have access to using the iPads throughout the year for all subjects. Thank you for giving my fourth-graders at Wilson Elementary access to technology and the gift of excitement toward learning.”

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