School Board Approves Grant for Grinnell Teacher

Acceptance of a grant applied for by a Grinnell Elementary School teacher sparked a review of the Derry Cooperative School District’s policy on acceptance of gifts.

Superintendent Laura Nelson presented the grant application by Grinnell fifth-grade teacher Donna Michaud.

Michaud applied to for $2,234.72 for a program called “Moving Helps Me Learn! It’s Not Always Bad Behavior.” Michaud explained in her letter that her classroom consists of “non-traditional” students.

She wrote, “My students are often seen as ‘different,’ most are seen as a behavior problem, defiant, disrespectful or even too active.” The “labels” are given because her students are unable to stay in their seats or focus for a long time, Michaud said.

But Michaud knows her kids and also wrote, “Movement has been one of the best ways to get children to gain control over their behaviors, increasing engagement and retention of learning.”

Her proposal was to purchase a number of items including stability balls, stability “wobble cushions,” an In-Stride folding cycle, a Twisting Balance Board, a set of resistance bands and “Fidget Toys.”

Michaud wrote, “These donations would help my students by showing them that their frustrations and extra energy is no longer seen as a negative behavior.”

New board member Lynn Perkins said he would like to observe this classroom using the materials, and Nelson said she would set something up.

“Adults don’t move around enough,” Perkins said. “This is a unique way of teaching. It sparked my interest.”

Erika Cohen, also a new member, observed that she sits on a balance ball at work and finds it helpful. “It is good for the back,” she said.

Nelson said that because the grant was over $500, it needed board approval. Smaller grants are approved through her office, she said.

“The teachers do a good job in brokering these resources,” she added.

Board chairman Dan McKenna asked if there were a formal effort to assist teachers in finding grants, and Nelson said while there was nothing district-wide, building principals are aware of grant opportunities and connect teachers with funding sources.

West Running Brook Middle School has also received a grant, $500 from Kohl’s Department Store, to assist with a grounds clean-up during April vacation. Nelson said Kohl’s personnel will come to the school and work along with administrators and Parent Teacher Association members as part of Kohl’s national “Go Green” event, she said.