Education feature: Foundation funds creative, innovative teaching projects

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

Clovis teachers don’t have to cut off their creative juices just because budgets are tightening.

The Clovis Municipal Schools Education Foundation was founded three years ago to pay for projects that can be funded outside the district’s regular budget.

Becky Rowley, Clovis Community College’s executive vice president, sits on the foundation’s committee. Rowley said CCC wanted to be a part of the foundation.

“We see CMS as our primary partner. If I hadn’t participated, someone else from here would have. We see this as something that would provide opportunities to students and definitely something we want to be a part of,” Rowley said.

The foundation’s grant committee reviews two patches of grant proposals each year — one each in fall and spring.

The proposals come from teachers with a vision for a project in their classroom but who need to find another way to pay costs.

The grant committee meets Nov. 13 to review 13 proposals it has received for the fall.

Rowley said all proposals have clear projected outcomes.

“The teachers have to state very clearly what students are going to gain by having this project in their classroom,” she said. “We’re not paying for staplers.”

Rowley said the foundation provides an outlet for teachers.

“Teachers often have ideas that require extraordinary supplies or something and they don’t have the money to do it. These projects give kids more opportunities,” she said. “And they give teachers an opportunity to rejuvenate their own enthusiasm.”

Superintendent Rhonda Seidenwurm said the board is made up of community members who recognize the value of having a non-profit for a school district, especially in New Mexico, where school funds are filtered through Santa Fe.

“This is a vehicle for people who want to keep their donations local,” Seidenwurm said. “The best way to describe it is as an academic booster club.”

Seidenwurm said the main purpose of the foundation is to fund grants for innovative and creative projects teachers want to do with their students that are above and beyond the district’s resources.

An example of a project the foundation has funded is an archeological dig at Yucca Middle School which included a field trip to Blackwater Draw and incorporated math, English, history and science.