Clinton teachers awarded classroom grants

Every Tuesday afternoon, a group of third graders meets in the Northside Elementary School library for tutoring sessions.

The goal, said teacher Laura Jo Ferguson, is to give students a chance to build their confidence and skill level in reading and comprehension. Clinton High School students in the National Honor Society, Crown Club and Anchor Club tutor the younger children, focusing on fluency, sight words and comprehension.

“Third graders must score a 3 or higher on the third-grade reading state test,” Ferguson said. “Students who score below a 3 will not be promoted to the fourth grade. … We want to reduce the number of students scoring 1 or 2 on the reading test with our afterschool tutorials.”

To fund this project, Ferguson was recently awarded a $1,000 grant from Mississippi Professional Educators. She is one of two Clinton teachers who received a classroom grant from MPE this year.

Eastside Elementary School Teacher Landa Gayle Strum received a $1,000 grant to purchase hardback books on higher Accelerated Reading levels for her students.

“The goals of the project are to increase the students’ reading level, to create a love of reading, and have quality books that will last,” she said.

The grant funding allowed Strum to purchase more than 100 books for her classroom.

Ferguson’s grant funds provide snacks for students who are being tutored as well as a Family Engagement Pack to take home, with a book on their reading level, extra practice materials and sight words.

“Maybe for the first time, these students will develop a love of reading that will last a lifetime,” Ferguson said.

MPE Executive Director Kelly Riley said the organization awards grants to up to 40 teachers per year.

“These grants provide funding for our members to try out a new idea or buy the ‘extras’ for an already great lesson plan or project,” she said. “We are excited to be a part of Mrs. Ferguson’s and Ms. Strum’s classrooms this year and we can’t wait to hear how our grants support their students’ learning.”

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