The CACEASF donated to a wonderful project at Phelps Luck Elementary School located in Columbia, Maryland to support an innovative project started by a very special school Librarian! The project provides comfortable seating for students in their media center while reading and doing collaborative learning projects. “Mrs. G’s” vision to create a comfortable space that is mobile replaces the typical old wooden chairs that are commonly used in school library settings with stools that are portable for students and staff to move around the library. She says, “this mobility will enhance our ability to engage in meaningful discussions and group projects easily. In our small library classroom space, the stools will provide more space for students to walk around because they have a smaller footprint.”
Like Mrs. ‘G’, our mother was lovingly called Mrs. ‘C’ by many of her students throughout the years. She was a Reading Specialist and dedicated her life’s work to helping children learn to read and write. She often commented after retirement that she would love to work in a library or even become a Librarian. What a wonderful profession and perhaps one that is overlooked today, as modern librarians play many roles in a school setting. They provide access to technology, participate in research, support teachers and staff with resources and information, are masters at creating displays to draw in students imagination, and they often use their expertise and/or background in other subject areas to reach their students. Most importantly, librarians still continue to insight children’s passion for reading and learning through all their creative work and projects.
This year, the CACEASF again supported Shawnee Middle School sixth grade special education students in Shawnee, Oklahoma with the purchase of computers. These computers will specifically support children living with conditions such as Cerebral Palsy, who have limited muscle control, causing them difficulty when using, gripping, and manipulating pencils. This technology will improve their ability to express themselves and help them to gain an essential life skill for success in the workforce.
According to the Cerebral Palsy Alliance Research Foundation, “Cerebral palsy is the most common physical disability in childhood and is an umbrella term that refers to a group of disorders affecting a person’s ability to move. While the cause is unknown, 1 in 323 babies is diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy in the United States. Cerebral palsy damages the developing brain either during pregnancy or shortly after birth. A person’s body movement, muscle control, muscle coordination, muscle tone, reflex, posture and balance can be affected; while visual, learning, hearing, speech, epilepsy, and intellectual impairments may also occur.” https://cparf.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/12/2018/07/WCPD_16_WhatisCP_Infographic_WORLD.pdf
The Celia Ann Card Educational Assistance Scholarship Fund, Inc. (CACEASF) is seeking students with reading and writing disabilities and/or reading below grade level to participate in its FREE Carroll Kids Connect Dyslexia Summer Reading Program. During the Summer of 2019, students will use the OgStar Reading Complete Software learning application for 5 days a week for one hour daily. “OgStar Reading™ provides students in grades pre-K through 8 with an enjoyable and comprehensive 106-lesson literacy game, based on the well-respected Orton-Gillingham approach.” www.ogstarreading.com. The goal of the CACEASF program is for each student to maintain or improve their reading level over the summer. If interested, please contact the CACEASF Board President, Amanda Knott, at email@example.com to find out if your student is eligible to participate. Funding for this program was made possible through a generous Dollar General Literacy Foundation grant. Funding is limited so those that contact the CACEASF first will be served. Click the following link to download enrollment forms Carroll Kids Connect Dyslexia Summer Reading Program.
The CACEASF donated funding to Human Services Programs of Carroll County, Inc’s Family Support Center and Family Shelter Programs, located in Westminster, Maryland. Funding was used to purchase costumes for children with financial need and for staff to help bring reading alive during Family Support Center program activities. Costumes are used by staff in the center program to make reading experiences exciting for young learners. Teachers use costumes, voices, and expression while reading aloud to little ones, which helps to spark their imagination and teach different elements of a story. Children also learn from their teacher how to reenact a story through dramatic play. This creative approach to teaching literacy skills helps fill the gap for students that may have attention or reading differences, making it easier for them to stay engaged and love reading in spite of their challenges.
Our mom would have loved this project, as every child deserves to dress up; and she loved the theater, which was definitely a creative outlet for her as an individual, mentor, and teacher! The project provided the financial means for these students to have not just a costume and fun like their peers, but an opportunity to use their imagination during critical years in their development.
In September 2018, the CACEASF donated $500 in funding to Shawnee Middle School to purchase two Chromebooks that will supply students with special needs the assistive technology they need in order to complete written assignments. Many students with fine motor skill challenges and Dysgraphia, a specific learning disability that causes trouble with written expression, find the writing process much harder and slower. Children with Dysgraphia experience difficulty in six areas: visual-spatial, fine motor, language processing, spelling/handwriting, grammar, and organization of language. Writing requires not only a complex set of fine motor skills, but also language processing skills, similar to those needed for learning to read. Without early intervention, school accommodations, structured teaching, and assistive technology solutions, a child with dysgraphia becomes increasingly at risk academically and emotionally. Children with writing disabilities may fall behind one or many grade levels in school and ultimately spiral deeper each year into an abys of frustration, sadness, and isolation. This is unnecessary as structured teaching approaches can be made available to teach children with writing disabilities as well as assistive technology tools and software to mitigate, and even provide a solution to address these challenges and emotional distress. Unfortunately, many children are not identified with these challenges in our public school systems and early interventions not provided until it is too late, or ever unless the child has been provided an Individualized Education Plan or IEP. Assistive technology is a proven intervention shown to improve academic and social outcomes for children with writing disabilities and the CACEASF is grateful for the courage and leadership that Shawnee Middle School demonstrates in providing assistive technology services for its students.
These interventions are critical in closing the reading gap in America and Celia or Mrs. “C” would be extremely happy that her hometown middle school proactively seeks solutions to help students in need. The CACEASF tracks public school system data in Oklahoma and Maryland related to the achievement of children with disabilities on standardized assessments. The achievement gap for children with disabilities is clearly significant and even more so for minorities and children from low income households. Racial and economic disparities are notable as compared to all children, as well as those with disabilities. The CACEASF is also fully aware that illiteracy among the prison population is overwhelming. Therefore, again, early intervention is not only critical to individual student success, but also to that of a community, where individual educational achievement is the single most important factor affecting economic and societal outcomes.
On March 16, 2018 Mom’s fund supported the delivery of the first modern event in Carroll County Public Schools (CCPS) focused on Dyslexia. CACEASF collaborated with the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Educational Center, Decoding Dyslexia Maryland, and CCPS to present the challenges of what students with Dyslexia experience to 30 dedicated CCPS Elementary Reading Specialists through simulation. Reading Specialists work directly with struggling readers and support general education elementary teachers with accommodations in the classroom. This was an especially meaningful project because mom was a Reading Specialist and one of her granddaughters is also Dyslexic. The simulation is effective in not only bringing home these students’ struggles but their emotion. It takes the teacher (or parent) through trials in reading and writing and causes one to feel the anxiety, frustration, fear, and disappointment in oneself from being unable to read and write on grade level with peer students. ASDEC is one of only two training providers in the country accredited by the International Dyslexia Association, which states, “Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.” (dyslexiaida.org) The simulation also provided classroom accommodations and intervention ideas for teachers who gained a deeper understanding of this condition on that day. They can now provide further support to general education teachers at their schools and to their students. While there is no cure for Dyslexia, students with this condition can learn coping strategies and parents whom have children with Dyslexia are encouraged to seek out reading instruction that is based upon a systemic and explicit understanding of language structure, including phonics. This reading instruction goes by many names, Structured Literacy, Orton-Gillingham, Simultaneous Multisensory, Explicit Phonics, and others. (dyslexiaida.org) CACEASF was so heartened by the opportunity to bring this simulation to CCPS Elementary Reading Specialists. Their love and passion for helping struggling students is as strong as our mother’s was and they offered many creative ideas to support CCPS students. CACEASF is grateful to its partner ASDEC and to CCPS for the opportunity to share this information with its teachers. We look forward to continued partnership to support struggling readers in Carroll County Public Schools.
The Prague Middle School Student Leadership Team in Prague, Oklahoma received financial support from the CACEASF to support school and community initiatives, including tutoring students and assisting teachers during the day and after school.
Angela and I are so glad that this donation can benefit not only the community of Prague, but also the social and emotional growth of Prague Middle School students. Our mother loved teaching middle school and retired from teaching at Prague Middle School. Like most children, we don’t know everything about our mother’s life’s work or her numerous contributions, but we can speak to her commitment to the communities and students where she worked. She taught in three very different communities in Oklahoma; Shawnee, Oklahoma City, and Prague. Mom was an incredible teacher and mentor because she made an effort to know the communities and populations where she taught and to try to understand the challenges where her students lived and breathed daily. She took time to provide social and emotional supports to her students that are still very much needed today, but provided less and less due to rules, rigor, and expectations placed on our teachers and students. She participated as Student Council Sponsor throughout her teaching career supporting similar school and community initiatives to this grant’s purpose. She provided countless hours of free tutoring and devoted herself as a avid fan of her school’s sports. Many, many student’s remember the time and effort “Mrs. C” made to listen and encourage them in their academics and to be themselves! This donation honors her life’s work, her humanity, and her “school spirit”.