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Oxford teachers get chance to cash in on classroom innovation

Oxford Middle School math teacher Andy Field offers extra math instruction after school at Oxford Homework Club.  Photo by Deb Wenger, Jan. 13, 2014.
Oxford Middle School math teacher Andy Field offers extra math instruction after school at Oxford Homework Club.

Andy Field loves teaching math – especially when he can get students excited about the subject, too. The Oxford Middle School teacher said he found an easy way to help make that happen when he applied for a grant to buy 90 new calculators for the classroom.
“We had calculators that were 20 years behind,” said Field.  “Now, this $15 piece of technology functions in a way that helps the kids keep their thoughts organized and helps them do bigger math.”
Field got the cash to buy the new calculators from the Oxford Endowment for Public Education (OEPE). The local non-profit raises money to help teachers get the extras they need to give students more hands-on and experiential learning.  Last year alone, they distributed $19,000 in grants.
“We’re just trying to provide funding for things that allow teachers to go above and beyond in the classroom,” said Lori Elliott, the OEPE board member who oversees the grant program.  “We want work with teachers to help as many as students as we can.
High-end calculators help OMS students perform higher-level math problems.

Today marks the beginning of a new round of funding opportunities for Oxford teachers.  OEPE is hoping to get dozens of applications asking for special software, equipment or other innovative enhancements that support the curriculum, but only if there isn’t already money in the school budget to pay for the idea.
“We have adequate funding,” says Field, “but sometimes that’s not enough, so you have to find money from other sources.  The OEPE grant is so easy to write; if you have a good reason for what you want, that’s all it takes.”
Details about the grants and applications are available online.  The deadline to apply is March 1.  Elliott says teachers who have a great idea for teaching, but need money to make it happen, should just get on the website to apply.
‘We provide a lot of grants every year; as long as it’s innovative and creative, it should be at least partially funded.”
Deb Wenger is director of undergraduate journalism at Ole Miss and a member of the OEPE board.  Contact her at drwenger@olemiss.edu.

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