BIG IDEA Grant Winner Announced

After much deliberation by the Worthington Educational Foundation Grant Committee, it is with great excitement that I announce the Worthington Educational Foundation (WEF) has selected a winner for their BIG IDEA grant. The WEF will be funding “Words Take Wing,” a wonderful grant submitted by the team of Renee Linn, Ken Pease, Ben Rule, Ken Lease, Margaret Wilcox, Holly Farley, and Carol Price. One of the amazing things about this grant is the established partnerships with other entities. The Worthington Libraries, The Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at The Ohio State University, as well as Head Start Columbus have all signed on to support this project.

Here is the Project Summary:

In early September of 2014, a group of interested stakeholders from the Worthington education community gathered to begin a conversation about how to create school readiness opportunities for preschoolers from multi-lingual families. Many ELL children are entering Worthington kindergartens at a disadvantage because of their lack of exposure to English vocabulary and literacy activities, including the experiences of being read to and talking about books. This academic lag often continues during the children’s elementary years. There are 250 ELL students in kindergarten through second grade in the district this year and the overall ELL population has increased 10% since the 2013-2014 school year. After focus groups and discussions with Latino families, the partners developed the Words Take Wing project with the goal of increasing the frequency of literacy exposure for ELL pre-k boys and girls through the following: 1) providing training for parents in reading aloud with their children, using specific research-based strategies, and 2) expanding the children’s access to picture books by giving books to the families. The project would benefit pre-k English language learners in the Worthington Schools community. Training would be delivered through 8 learning modules throughout the school year to 30 targeted families. By increasing the children’s vocabulary and literacy exposure prior to kindergarten, we hope the impact will be to decrease the gap that separates the disadvantaged from the advantaged and improve school success for this unique group of children.

At this time, please help me congratulate our three semi-finalists: Lori Povisil from the “Students Creating Change” grant, Jon Baird and his team from the “STEM Pathways” grant, and Jacquie Schmittauer with the “Awaker Spaces”. They put in a lot of time and passion, and the WEF wishes they could have funded the semi-finalists, as well.

Lastly, the WEF accepts grants twice during the school year, and always accepts donations through their website – www.worthingtoneducationalfoundation.com

Thomas Tucker, Worthington Superintendent

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