Gateway Education Center wants to add high-interest non-fiction books to its school library, but it needs the public’s votes to win a $2,500 grant.
When Wendy Kovach started three years ago as Warsaw Community School Corp.’s coordinator of library services, Gateway’s library had a limited amount of books. They barely filled two shelves.
“The books here were discarded from other libraries and were marked ‘discarded,’ so the students here did not have any new books to utilize, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction,” she explained.
Kovach worked with Gateway Principal Steve Ferber and the teachers to write grants for libraries to get funding for book resources. Budgets were figured so WCS libraries would get books based on student population, but in her first two years as coordinator that had not been the case and Gateway was left out of the funding formula. Gateway’s population is just over 100 students so even with funding based on population, the alternative learning school still gets a small portion compared to the other libraries. Kovach continues writing grants for Gateway so it can get additional resources in the library.
“It’s exciting because when you look around, it still has a long way to go to get more resources, specifically focused in non-fiction. And that’s why I wrote the grant for the Thank A Million Teachers through Farmers Insurance,” Kovach said.
She applied for a $2,500 grant.
“You can only write a little blurb of what you really want,” she said.
In part, she wrote, “The focus of my project is to increase independent reading using high-interest non-fiction or informational text with my students. The majority of my students are non-traditional students who read below their grade level. Research has shown that the more students take part in independent reading, the better they do in school, and students who read non-fiction books have greater increases in their reading levels and reading fluency than those students who just read fiction books.”
Gateway students range from kindergartners to high school seniors.
What makes the Thank A Million Teachers grant different from others is that it’s awarded based on popular vote.
“You put your grant proposal in, they assign you to a month, we’re the month of November. We’re in a specific region. And then they just have all the grants from that region listed and people just vote on the ones they like the best,” Kovach said.
The top six vote getters in each of the regions win the $2,500 grants. As of Wednesday afternoon, Gateway was No. 8 in its region with 2,135 votes. The No. 6 vote-getter had 4,980 votes as of yesterday. Gateway is in the North Central region.
“When you go into this, the trick is, you’ve got to go down to the $2,500 grants. You find the grant, which you can do different ways, but I go to Indiana and then it lists all the Indiana grants,” she said.
The Gateway grant is listed under W. Kovach, Gateway Education Center, Warsaw IN.
To vote, a person has to put in their email address, and can only vote once a day. Voters have to be at least 18 years old. Once a person votes, they have to check their email and verify the vote.
“If you don’t verify the vote, it doesn’t count,” Kovach stated.
Voting ends Nov. 30.
Farmers Insurance, the host of the nationwide competition, has local representatives in town, Jamie Clark and John Edwards, 715 E. Winona Ave., Warsaw. Kovach said they have been helping with the grant contest process and she met with them Wednesday.
She said Peter Lucht, Middle School Alternative Learning Program teacher; Alan Blakeley, Alternative Instructional Methods School Program teacher; and Kari Rumple, administrative assistant, have been strong advocates for the grant.
“They’re great supporters for the Gateway library. They (Lucht and Blakeley) both teach in this building,” she stated.
Others throughout the school corporation also have been voting for the grant.
“We’re excited about this library,” Kovach said. “In the last three years, we’ve really grown this library from this sad, empty room that had no technology, and now it’s to the point where I do library instruction every week with students using the library in the classroom, using the print sources, using electronic resources … The goal is for the students to be well-rounded.”
The grant would help with that goal, she said.
Lucht said, “Thirty days. By the time this goes to print tomorrow, there’s about 10 days left. If somebody took 30 seconds a day and voted, that would be 300 seconds. If you break that down into minutes, all we’re asking for is five minutes. And five minutes of an individual’s time can make a very significant impact on our students here. The great thing about our school is that we have students from a variety of the schools within our corporation. If not every school is represented, it has to be close for them sending their students to us for our services. We greatly appreciate the support. We’re not asking for money but five minutes of their time to make a phenomenal difference.”
(Story By The Times Union)