Broward Education Foundation funds innovative teacher projects
(Fort Lauderdale, FL) – Science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics were just a few of the classroom subjects highlighted in the innovative projects presented by Broward County teachers during the recent 19th Annual Broward Education Foundation Teacher Expo.
More than 300,000 Broward County students have experiences these innovations in their classroom through Broward Education Foundation grants. “We strive for teacher excellence in our schools and it was on display here at the Expo,” said Christina Fischer, Broward Education Foundation board chair. “I love to see the passion these teachers have for their students.”
Sponsored by BrightStar Credit Union and hosted by NSU’s Fischler School of Education & Human Resources, the Teacher Expo allows educators to gather ideas for creative classroom projects, participate in continuing education and hear from inspiring charismatic speakers.
“When great minds come together, they stimulate bigger ideas,” said Broward School Board Chair Dr. Rosalind Osgood. “Our teachers help students learn through these projects in non-traditional ways.”
The innovative projects focus on STEM, reading and comprehension, the environment, nutrition and more. The more than 500 teachers in attendance received the tools needed to bring projects to life in their respective classrooms.
“There’s great innovation and thinking here,” said Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie. “These teachers inspire me. They bring passion, dedication and commitment to their work and of course a love of their students.”
Teachers from Coral Springs, Hollywood, Weston, Miramar, Fort Lauderdale and every city in between in Broward County brought their most innovative classroom projects to the more than 500 teachers in attendance.
Paula Fijalkowski, a teacher at Title 1 Bennett Elementary in Fort Lauderdale, introduced her Robot Fever Takes Over Math and Science project designed to increase a student’s math, science and reading skills. “We have the Broward Education Foundation grant to thank for this,” said Fijalkowski. “Through our robots, the students learn math, science, computer coding, the scientific method and problem solving. It helps with their classroom behavior and they have to work together and communicate so they are learning new skills.”
At Richards Middle School in Fort Lauderdale, Jose Padilla-Santiago’s project is called Adapted Portfolio and works perfectly for his students with cognitive disabilities. “It teaches them to give back to the community something these students don’t have the opportunity to do. The Broward Education Foundation grant allowed us to get the necessary equipment to implement our idea. Through our project, students learn to bake cookies for the elderly and homeless. They learn new vocabulary words and feel good about themselves which is huge because they are non-verbal students and this teaches them to adapt in the classroom and out. We have them thinking about the future and this project gives them the opportunity.”
Andra Beames from Sawgrass Springs Middle School in Coral Springs has been attending the Teacher Expo since the beginning. Through her I Supreme 4 Ice Cream project, she uses a carnival theme for motivation to read and write and incorporates social studies lessons. “The grant allows us to go out and enrich our classroom with tools to engage students in more experiences. They then take home their project to share with their parents,” she said.
Also from Sawgrass Middle School, Debra Brand, dressed in her pirate attire, uses the topic of pirates in her Aaarrrrgh Mateys! project to teach students through different disciplines. “This project is for ESOL students. It’s an intensive reading, social studies, language and life skills project that sends students on a treasure hunt with clues,” she said. “Pirates are common to all countries so they understand that. They work in teams for cooperative learning. It’s works.”
At Coral Springs High School, Dona Maggio’s project Reading Across the Curriculum encourages students to increase reading, writing and research skills while developing public speaking proficiency and increasing their ability to use appropriate digital presentation tools. “We’re creating digital citizens,” Maggio adds.
For Heather Gonzalez, a teacher at Sheridan Park Elementary in Hollywood, this is her first time at the Teacher Expo. Her project, Interview with an Artist, helps students make connections with artists and through art in the curriculum. “This project is a great way to engage students and to teach them not to be intimidated by art,” Gonzalez said. “Students gain a deep knowledge of artists and their styles as well as increased art literacy.”
“The Broward Education Foundation grants are the best thing to happen in my life,” said Andrea Nobil, a teacher at Eagle Point Elementary in Weston. “It allows me to be creative and do what I want to do. Students gain authentic experiences and the measurement is reflected in the increase in student test scores.” Her project A Classic Look at Learning promotes accountable talk and exposes students to diverse cultural traditions. The goal is to improve Spanish fluency and comprehension while developing a deeper understanding of Hispanic culture by comparing Spanish and American holidays and using multimedia evidence to produce a holiday scrapbook.
Barry Canada’s project I Believe in ME – Motivating / Educating allows students do independent work where they create their own curriculum, courses and assignments and take a project from start to finish. The teacher at New Renaissance Middle School in Miramar says, “It’s extremely important for them to have this forum to present their ideas. Students can learn. We can’t say they can’t, they can!”
Sponsors of the Expo, in addition to Nova Southeastern University, Fischler School of Education & Human Resources and BrightStar Credit Union, were Forum Publishing Group, Community Foundation of Broward, Wells Fargo, the Ford Motor Company Fund, the cities of Hollywood and Hallandale Beach, State Farm Insurance and Education First Employee Campaign.
About the Broward Education Foundation:
Established in 1983, the nonprofit Broward Education Foundation (BEF) aligns with Broward County Public Schools by providing support for innovative teaching to advance Pre K-12 achievement; critically needed educational materials for Title I school teachers and students, and scholarships for qualified high school seniors. Each year, the Foundation contributes more than $2 million to Broward County schools, serving as the catalyst for educational excellence.