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Funds for Jungle Trip, Yoga Among 22 Teacher Grants

A total of 22 teachers in Darien Public Schools recieved scholarships from the Sydnor and Miriam Reiss Teachers' Fund for Further Study, a foundation set up in association with the school district.

High school teacher Elissa Scudder will study biodiversity along the Samaria River near Loreto, Peru.

Third-grade teacher Erin Brown will participate in "a series of intensive yoga sessions."

And seven elementary school teachers will study reading and writing teaching methods, organization, planning and assessing at Columbia University.

Each of these nine teachers, along with 13 others, has been given a grant from the Sydnor and Miriam Reiss Teachers' Fund for Further Study, after the town Board of Education approved the grants on Wednesday.

The foundation was established 25 years ago "to foster excellence in the Darien schools by providing scholarships for study to Darien teachers," according to a memorandum from Matthew Byrnes, assistant superintendent for secondary education.

A total of 30 teachers applied for the grants this year, and the Scholarship Committee recommended awards for 22 applicants. The Board of Education approved the grants in a unanimous vote. A total of $17,135 was granted, leaving $7,299 in the fund balance, which is renewed with fundraising from private and public donations, according to Byrnes.

Some of the teachers who didn't receive grants through the Reiss Fund are eligible to receive district professional development funds, Byrnes wrote.

Here are the descriptions of the three grants mentioned above (each of the grants is described in the attached document):

Elissa Scudder, , Earthwatch Amazon—granted $1,250—"Elissa will participate in an experimental Earthwatch team learning project this summer at the Yavari River and Pacaya-Samaria National Reserve along the Samaria River near Loreto, Peru. The research will require collection of data and observation of the area to better understand the area's biodiversity with the hopes of developing sustainable conservation strategies. As a biologist and environmental scientist, this real world activity can be easily incorporated into her work with students."

Erin Brown, , third grade teacher, yoga training—granted $1,500—"Erin plans to participate in a series of intensive yoga sessions this summer. She is conscious of the stressors that impact students and a school community and sees value in having strategies for coping with that stress. Simple exercises or relaxation strategies can serve to support student learning by increasing concentration, maximizing attentiveness, and providing options for responding to frustration or anxiety. Erin will have the opportunity to enrich her own background, which can have a positive impact on the classroom and community."

Teacher's College Reading/Writing Project Summer Institute—granted a total of $4,725 ($675 for each of seven teachers)—"The following teachers are enrolled in the Nineteenth Annual Summer Institute on the Teaching of Reading and Writing at Teacher's College, Columbia University. Led by Lucy Calkins, a key leader in the field of reading/writing, this five-day institute covers topics such as common core-aligned curriculum development, mapping and developing units of study across the year, assessing and planning for work with individuals and small groups, comprehension strategies, writing about reading, and current research about teaching methods. It gives teachers the opportunity to keep up-to-date on best practices for teaching reading and writing while collaborating with colleagues from throughout the country and leaders in the literacy field."

Teachers:

  • Denise DiFederico,
  • Deborah Lynch, Hindley
  • Jacqueline Doty,
  • Lauren Moore,
  • Sarah Taylor,
  • Amanda Thomas, Tokeneke
  • Penny Watt,

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