Teacher Connie Reynoso moves effortlessly and quietly through the second-grade classroom.
Her students, studying Spanish language arts at Pacheco Elementary School in San Luis Obispo, sit with books open on their desks, reading. Half of the class wears earphones listening to audio recordings that Reynoso created during her spring break so that students can hear the stories as they read them.
The books and the CD players were purchased with a grant that Reynoso received from the Teach Foundation — a nonprofit that uses an endowment fund to award mini-grants to San Luis Coastal School District employees who work directly with students.
Because of the grant, the daily reading lesson extends beyond the classroom. Reynoso was able to purchase 60 bilingual books that are sent home daily with the students.
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Many of those homes, said Reynoso, lack books. And more than a handful of parents admit that they cannot read.
The CDs allow the families to listen to the stories together and learn together, Reynoso said.
“I want to give these families an opportunity to embrace literacy in their home and to help them see that they can motivate their children to be readers despite not being readers themselves,” she wrote in her grant application. Reynoso is one of 50 educators who received a grant from the foundation last year that awards $13,000 to $20,000 annually.
In the past decade, the Teach Foundation has provided grants totaling more than $185,000 to educators.
That money has been used for an array of educational needs including buying books, starting a robotics club and providing transportation for field trips, said Terri Main, grant chairperson.
“The grant money allows for more creative teaching,” Reynoso said. “There is not a teacher in the world that doesn’t want that, but with school funding the way it is, there is never really quite enough to fulfill the needs of every child.”
The Teach Foundation is hosting a murder mystery dinner presented by Murder in Mind of Arroyo Grande to raise funds for future grants Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Madonna Inn. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased at www.sloccf.org/teachtickets or by calling 549-6454.
Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.