Learning and Inspiration Using a Book, an iPad and a Tape Recorder

“Saul Raisin came to speak to our class last week, and we are currently in the process of reading our new “Tour de Life” books.  It was awesome to hear about his story and all he has gone through, from competition to injury to recovery.  We really appreciate what you have done, and wanted to let you know that the money was definitely not wasted!  Thank you all very much!” –Carly Morris

Thank you for raising the money and providing these books for us. This real-life situation helped us see how fragile life can be and how powerful one’s body can be. It makes me want to never give up and help people that are going through what he went through. If it weren’t for you getting us the books, I wouldn’t be so motivated today.”
–McKenzie Harris

“Saul Raisin’s inspiring story encouraged our class that no matter how tough life gets, we should never give up.  He has changed my life in an extremely positive way.  Thank you very much!” –Caroline R. Ledford

The words of these Cleveland High School students in the notes above, reflect the depth of their response to hearing Saul Raisin, author and past professional bicycle racer, talk about his career ending traumatic brain injury.  This near-fatal injury, his rehabilitation and the quality of his life today were the subject of Saul’s presentation to the Sports Medicine class taught by former nurse Erin Hattabaugh. 

This grant, funded by the Junior Auxiliary of Cleveland and Mr. and Mrs. Randy Cooper, brought the author to Cleveland twice to interact with two semesters of students and provided books for the students to study.  Sentiments like those of the Cleveland High students are echoed countless times by teachers and students in dozens of classrooms in Cleveland City and Bradley County Schools.  Because of the generosity of donors to the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation, Teacher Grant-Individuals of $1000 have supported academics annually, making special projects and programs possible.  Purchase of books, iPads, math and science materials, musical instruments, would be impossible except for the grants the teachers request from the Foundation. 

In this 2011-2012 academic year alone, 54 Teacher Grant-Individuals were awarded to 16 schools, helping to make classrooms inviting and challenging for hundreds of students and dozens of teachers alike.  The grants encompass subjects from science to music, mathematics to physical education.  The donors who endow these grants are interested individuals and families, committed businesses and corporations.  Each contributor has an immediate impact on the lives of children and ultimately on the educational level of our entire community.

At Black Fox Elementary School, Brandie Arnold teaches 18 third-graders.  She requested an iPad for her classroom—ONE iPad!  She shares this technology with five classes, reaching a total of 93 students.  In her proposal to the Foundation, Brandie predicted that over the next five years—the anticipated life of this equipment—the benefit would extend to 400 students. 

In her follow-up report to the Foundation, Ms. Arnold reported that five of her students are second language learners and only three have a computer at home. Using the iPad and related applications “has been a great experience for them.  They have worked on reading skills like phonics, on multiplication and division.  They love it and were so excited when the iPad arrived and we opened the box.  I am confident their reading, math and technology skills have increased dramatically.”

The students’ voices are heard in their thank you letters to Mr. and Mrs. Bill Creech who underwrote this grant: “I want to thank you for donating money.  I use the iPad to practice math and reading skills.  I think the iPad is fun.  It is fun to play something electrical while learning.”    –Noel

“Thank you for giving us money for the iPad.  I like it and it’s made me learn—like math and reading.” –Aiden

Brandie Arnold says that her Black Fox 3rd grade students “can’t wait until it is their turn to use the iPAD.  I am so thankful for the grant. I know that it has brought them closer to meeting math and literacy standards and, in the process, increased their knowledge about technology.”

Rebecca McIntire has been a member of the Bradley/Cleveland Public Education Foundation’s Executive Committee for five years and currently serves as President.  Her dedication stems from having two children in the local schools, but also from her commitment to the community at large.  “This organization does great work.  It is very responsible in the use and distribution of the contributions it receives, is true to its mission and makes a huge difference in our local classrooms.  But it also has a long-term effect on our community.  An educated community is critical to the freedoms we enjoy and the quality of life we have.  That’s why we give! And why I continue to serve on its Board of Trustees.”

A portion of the contribution from Dr. and Mrs. McIntire funded a grant for first graders at Blythe Bower Elementary School this year.  Teachers Courtney Hays and Cynthia Summers requested help equipping their literacy stations, basing their plan on current reading and brain research and encouraging student independence in learning.  Their plan would help students “develop the daily habits of reading and writing.”

This grant called “Listening Learners for Literacy” requested funds to purchase tape players and books—sets that would allow the children to read and listen simultaneously.  This strategy has been proven to work, developing more effective readers and in the process demonstrating and modeling the teachers’ passion for reading.  It matches students to books opening new worlds of place and experience to them, while simultaneously permitting the teachers to assess the students’ levels of reading, moving them onward to the next level of skills.  A listing of all grants awarded this year, the schools and teachers involved, and the donors who contributed can be found on the Foundation’s website www.bcpef.org.