Leveraging Innovation by Growing and Honoring Teachers (LIGHT) Awards is a program of the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, a private foundation that seeks to improve the United States educational system in order to provide opportunities for all students to be productive members of their communities. The foundation aims to impact student achievement by identifying, recruiting, mentoring and recognizing superior teaching, and helping to create environments in which all teachers and students can flourish.
This year’s grants were awarded to five California schools for teachers to engage in professional development programs that reinvigorate personal commitments to teaching. Lakewood Elementary School was one of the five schools that applied to and received a $30,000 grant over the next two years for a self-selected development program that will lead to more engaged classrooms. These grants provide talented educators with the chance to re-energize their teaching careers by pursing high quality professional training, with the support and materials they need to succeed.
Lakewood’s six teacher team consists of four classroom teachers, an instructional coach and their resource specialist, John Austin, who is also the group lead. The team has chosen to focus on writing and to use these funds to grow their expertise and knowledge in the area of teaching writing. They will be attending a week-long seminar this summer in New York City in order to learn how to run an effective Writer’s Workshop, then collaborating as they put the practices into place in the fall. With the remaining funds, the team will provide other teachers at the site all the necessary curriculum and supplies needed to teach the Writer’s Workshop. They will also provide release time to observe the “expert” teachers and to collaborate within their grade levels on how to implement with fidelity. The team has put together a three-year plan, beginning in August 2014, ending with the goal that every Lakewood teacher will learn and effectively utilize a Writer’s Workshop model to teach writing with high fidelity by the end of the 2016-2017 school year.
When asked why the team chose to focus on writing, Austin stated, “There are many reasons we chose to focus on writing. We started by identifying writing as an area of need at our school, particularly due to a high population of English Language Learners. Second, writing is very difficult to teach, so this grant provided us with a perfect opportunity to learn how to approach writing in our classrooms. Third, utilizing a Writer’s Workshop model across the site will ensure that all students are receiving similar teaching throughout their six years at Lakewood, which means teachers will be able to build on last year’s teaching, as well as be able to prepare our students to excel in the next grade level.”
By receiving this LIGHT Award Lakewood Elementary School has been recognized as creative and innovative with extremely passionate teachers. When notified of this grant Principal Pam Cheng said, “It’s a really exciting opportunity not only for the group who applied, but for our school. I think this grant has a potential to make a big impact at our school for all of our students.”
For more information about the LIGHT Awards and the Intrepid Philanthropy Foundation, please visit http://lightawards.org
Contributor: John Austin, Resources Specialist/Lakewood Elementary School