This foundation funds proposals from innovative teachers who work to create great learning opportunities for their students. Teachers identify the needs and EPAK helps fund the classroom work directly. Awesome.
EPAK foundation allowed me to bring learning and joy to preschool children and their families. EPAK supported us with funds for purchasing some photo cameras for children. The cameras have been a great vehicle for exploration and learning in many areas. Children have learned science by collecting audiovisual data and observing changes in nature and light (e.g.: wet leaves after the rain; colors of the sky in sunset, and, shadows). They have discovered and noticed beautiful simple things around them and found ways to artistically portrait them (flowers, insects, pets around the neighborhood etc.)
With the use of the cameras, children have practiced self-regulation skills such as sharing and taking turns. They have also work collaboratively as children who have gain mastery are eager to teach their peers.
Finally, learning how to use the cameras have made children wonder new aspects of technology and privacy, skills that are critical to learn in the decade of social media.
I feel so grateful for EPAK support, as it not only contributed to children's learning but also inspired me as teacher!
I started as a volunteer with EPAK reading grants from teachers, and was so inspired by its mission that I decided to join the board. EPAK funds grants directly into the hands of teachers, allowing teachers to decide what works best for their classroom and students. From additional books, learning aids, or field trips, EPAK supports teachers in enriching the lives of their students in ways that otherwise may not have been possible. It is truly inspiring to see the work firsthand that EPAK does to support this community.
I taught for 7 years in the Ravenswood District. EPAK made an amazing impact on my students. I was given grants to provide students with books and hands on materials for math and science. I was also able to take students on field trips. These were experiences that my students only had because of EPAK. Please support this amazing organization. Their work makes a lasting impact on the lives of kids and their teachers.
I have been donating and volunteering with EPAK for several years. EPAK is a small local organization run by volunteers, so expenses are very low. Nearly every donation goes directly to classroom teachers for the "extras" that most of us would consider essentials in our public schools. The students often wouldn't have appropriate books and materials, or field trips, if not for EPAK grants. All teachers in all of the beneficiary schools are encouraged to apply for grants twice per year through an easy application process, and almost all of them are approved. It's a great cause, and a great way to make a direct impact on the students and teachers who need it.
The volunteers, including community members and school administrators, are dedicated and caring about improving the educational experience in EPA public schools. The teachers are creative in creating projects that will engage and advance their students' learning, and tailor their grant requests to specific needs each year. Great work!
The East Palo Alto Kids Foundation aims to provide and financial help to enable the teachers and students in the area with learning materials and projects not readily available to them through their budget. In an area were other more affluent school districts have at their disposal more opportunities to enrich their curriculum and extracurricular activities, EPAK fills a very much needed gap. The teachers I met were fully dedicated to enrich the learning experience in and out of the classroom for their students. They were passionate about teaching and expanding the expectations of their students. Very impressive group of educators. I hold a Ph.D. from Stanford and taught Spanish at Stanford for many years and sincerely appreciate what EPAK is doing for the community and the future of its students. Both teachers and students benefit tremendously for the generosity of the community and supporters
I was introduced to EPAK over three years ago and, after learning more about its mission, decided to volunteer. What makes the organization so unique is the direct impact it has: EPAK funds critical classroom tools and resources that schools might otherwise not be able to afford, thereby improving the educational experience for students. Something else that stands out is the commitment and contribution of each of its board members -- refreshingly, there's no one on the board in name only. With continued state funding shortfalls and encroaching technology firms putting more financial strain on local families, EPAK's work is more important than ever.
As a former reading teacher in Ravenswood, I appreciate the impact of EPAK. It allows both seasoned and new teachers to increase the quantity of books in their classroom library. There is a wide range of skill-levels in a class so it's important to have many books there. It is always exciting to hear a child say, "I love to read!"
This nonprofit puts dollars directly into the hands of creative, hard-working teachers. EPAK trusts that teachers know what's best for their students, and these small grants (up to $600, twice per year) fund everything from field trips to science lab materials to engaging reading materials to create a more enriching curriculum.
As a teacher in East Palo Alto, I relied on my grant from the East Palo Alto Kids (EPAK) Foundation twice a year to take my students on learning adventures and create rich, engaging projects for them to grow with. Now, as a new board member, I look forward to seeing all the amazing ideas other teachers come up with that we can help support and ensure students in East Palo Alto have some of the same opportunities as their peers across the freeway. EPAK can help make that happen!
Thanks to EPAK, I was always able to get projects funded to take my kids on amazing trips and give them the kind of education they deserved. In East Palo Alto, we are often left with minimal resources. With the grants in the fall and the spring, I was always able to do more for my students and provide materials we wouldn't otherwise have. It's an incredible program and our students are so lucky to have them for support
EPAK's twice-a-year grants for a wide variety of classroom and educational needs are every teacher's dream. EPAK's grant guidelines and application process are simple and clear and the whole process takes very little time. EPAK funds what teachers want, from supplemental curriculum to field trips. EPAK grants have enriched my classroom instruction, and my students' learning experiences.
I have been on the board now for several years and continue to be impressed with what the teachers are able to do with the two $600 grants that they receive each year -- if they apply for the grants. We just had EPAK Day in late May at East Palo Alto Charter School. The principal, a teacher, and a 4th grade student each spoke to the value of the grants at their school, and then student council members took donors and guests around the school to observe things bought with the grants. What a heart warming day it was to see donor's donations benefit and enrich the lives of these elementary school children.
For 25 years, EPAK has been providing grants directly to teachers to enable them to offer the educational enrichment they believe will best serve their students. Teachers use the grants for field trips, books, supplies and learning aids. I joined the EPAK Board because I was inspired by its mission, its commitment to community and its operational efficiency - 95% of the money we raise goes directly to educators. EPAK makes the grants easy to apply for, the project reports streamlined for transparency so that educators can stay focused on impact rather than logistics. Empowering those on the frontline of education is an empathy-led model of giving that I hope to see spread across the country - Shafi Saxena, June 2018
At our school we have a limited fund for supplies in our classrooms. This grant has allowed me to get different chemicals, dissection equipment, and animals for dissection. This has given students the opportunity to learn science in a hands on and authentic way. Every year students look forward to dissecting in my class, without this grant it would not be possible.
As an educator, micro grants are an essential tool for me to teach at my finest. Without these grants I would not have the resources to give my students the education they deserve. Teachers always want to give more to their students and only so much of that can come out of our own pay check. If we did not have these funds I would not be able to use my own money for all the projects I have been able to do.
Overall, this Grant helps with a wide variety of teacher needs! It is the best grant I have applied for because of the streamlined application and ease of using the check and returning receipts.
I came to teach in East Palo Alto because I was interested in finishing my using my final years teaching before retirement in a place full of difference makers. The challenge is front and center in East Palo Alto and this foundation leverages the support it gives directly at the highest impact level - teachers. I was fortunate as a new teacher to receive an initial grant that allowed me to purchase some electronic devices and consumables and not take that out of my own pocket. Most recently I've been able to join forces with other teachers at my school site and use funds from another grant to bring Jazz in Democracy to campus. This is a program that leverages resources exponentially.
EPAK is a wonderful program that has helped me implement many new projects into my classroom. Last year, as a first year teacher, it was really hard to start the school year without supplies or the built up income yet to invest my own money. With the grant from EPAK I was able to purchase supplies for my students to use and books to stock our classroom library. This year I am using the grant to help improve my math instruction by ordering math manipulatives for students to explore, smartboard programs to interact with, and more! EPAK is so helpful!
EPAK has provided to East Palo teachers a significant avenue to obtain funds for school needs, that otherwise would not be available.
E.g: Once it became known that tablet instruction was very helpful for children with learning challenges, a teacher would write a proposal to EPAK and explain the need, and request funds.
The allowable amount that a teacher could request covered the cost of a tablet. What a service to the kids in EPA.
The grant proposal process is quite simple and works well.
Many kudos to EPAK for providing support for needs that otherwise would not be met.
I did some light volunteer work for EPAK to help with newsletters. I'm so impressed with this incredible group of folks dedicated to improving classrooms and empowering teachers in the community. They are run efficiently so that nearly 100% of the proceeds donated go directly to the classroom.
EPAK delivers on a very simple, yet effective concept of granting funds to teachers in the Ravenswood School District. These small grants go toward everyday items needed in their classrooms - books in a range of reading levels, calculators, notebooks, poster boards, etc. Basic school supplies - that are plentiful in most school districts - are not a given in E. Palo Alto and E. Menlo and EPAK fills that gap. EPAK grants have funded field trips that are often first-time experiences for many of these students.
Although I don't regret the time spent raising PTA funds for the well-supported schools that my kids attend , it is very gratifying to have found EPAK where the impact of my donations can make a clear difference. EPAK = Impact
There is something very special about EPAK . It is the only foundation of its kind. Not only do they give money to teachers and the very powerful projects that they design, but they literally give the funds to teachers directly. This trust and respect for the teacher as a grantor communicates an incredible amount of dignity and gratitude for the professional that is your East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park teacher. Providing funds directly to the teacher allows the teacher creative freedom to find the resources, often at the best deals in town and the flexibility to pay for it directly - eliminating wasted time and resources on bureaucratic red tape. They are also an incredible foundation that has recognized the needs of brand new teachers, by including the new teacher mini grants, to help set up their classrooms. There are no other foundations that I know of, funding the new teacher classroom setup. The consideration and respect paid to teachers by the EPAK Foundation is an inspiration. Nevermind that as a donor you can be confident that every single dollar will find it's way into the classroom with a top notch team of 100% volunteers running the EPAK organization, that is just icing on the cake.
As a board member for EPAK, I read the descriptions of the how grants are used in the classroom. Those experiences are so enriching. Several examples at Los Robles Magnet Academy involve experiencing life on a farm --by visiting Lemo's Farm in Half Moon Bay where the children were able to feed goats, saddleback some ponies, pick pumpkins in the fields, and talk with farm hands learning how tractors and technology have changed much of farming practices today. In another class at the same school, through materials bought with grant monies, students were able to develop and practice their math skills more independently. Using Didax cubes helps them to blend letter sound into words. Using Touch Math helps them to learn how to identify numbers, and to add and subtract. Karen Ross
Fantastic organization that truly has students' interests at heart. They make sure that teachers have what they need to provide their classes with materials and the opportunity to develop projects during the year.
I've been teaching in my school district for eleven years now and EPAK has been a tremendous help to me and the well-deserving students of our community. The generous donations have enabled me to create a wonderful and substantial library of books that are used year-after-year by our students. Now that Common Core is with us, I've been able to buy more non-fiction books in the recent years, using the EPAK grant monies, and it turns out that the kids absolutely love to read non-fiction. Thanks, EPAK for enriching the lives of everyone in our community.
In my 15 years as an educator, I have never seen anything like EPAK. They put money directly in the hands of teachers to create engaging and innovative projects that inspire students. I have been so impressed by their work that I joined the board. As a board member and as an administrator of a school that benefits from EPAK grants I can truly say that EPAK does some amazing things for the East Palo Alto community.
I have been teaching in East Palo Alto for 10 years and in that time, I have benefitted at least twice a year from this organization's generosity. I absolutely could not provide my students with the quality of instruction that they now receive without the materials purchased with EPAK grant money. We are able to take field trips because of EPAK. We have books to read because of EPAK. We have hands on materials to build our understanding of mathematical concepts because of EPAK. I could not be more grateful or appreciative of this wonderful organization. If you want to donate money to an organization that will put the funds directly into teachers' hands for exactly what they know their students need, this is the organization.
I've been teaching at Brentwood Elementary School in East Palo Alto, CA for ten years now.
I was first a classroom teacher and am now a reading teacher. I can't imagine what my experience would have been without the support of EPAK. My students have all the books they need, at the appropriate level, and in concert with national standards. Our students are English learners and, in many cases, don't have a rich literacy background when they begin learning with us. Beautiful books, with clearly illustrated vocabulary support, make all the difference in their educational experience.
The funds raised by EPAK go to the teachers who know exactly what additional resources they need to benefit their students. 94% of your donation goes directly to grants to teachers.
When I first began my career with Ravenswood School District, one of my first encounters was with East Palo Alto Kids Foundation. I was welcomed and told about the generous grant offers that are given to teachers to make the learning experience that much better for our students. I had already been in education for 14 years and had never experienced such generosity for the sake of our babies. They make asking for the grant such an easy process and ensure that it is meaningful for our children.
When I was a new teacher in the Ravenswood district, I had no budget to set up my classroom and buy essential materials. My grant from EPAK helped me cover some of these costs and start the school year without paying too much out of my own pocket (which was greatly appreciated, given the salary of a new teacher in EPA).
EPAK allowed me to purchase materials for my kids that they really needed--from a leveled book library to science investigation materials!
EPAK does amazing work! With the support of its incredible volunteer board and greater community base, EPAK provides grants to classrooms serving vulnerable children in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park. As a former teacher and grant recipient, I can speak first hand about the impact EPAK has on kids, families and teachers.
My daughter teaches in Ravenswood School District, and I have seen first-hand what great work EPAK does to help the deserving children of the district. Bravo, EPAK. We happily contribute, as we know that the donations go right where they are needed.
EPAK is an essential and extremely valuable ally to every teacher, student and family in Ravenswood School District. Their generosity has been a key to any successes that have occurred since their inception.
I am a bilingual speech-language pathologist working with preschoolers, and I have benefited tremendously from the EPAK grant. I have been able to purchase many bilingual materials which has helped parents to work at home with their children and carryover the skills worked on in therapy. I have also used the grant money on technology such which has been effective in engaging my students who are significantly impacted by autism. Overall, I am very grateful for this organization and the money received impacts the students of EPA directly. Thank you EPAK!
I am at teacher in RCSD and have been very fortunate to be granted funds to replenish and add to my collection of Reading Recovery and small group book. There is constantly new books being published, especially nonfiction text written at my student's level. They are thrilled to be able to read these books and along with the internet to further explore their interest.
Thank you EPAK and their supporters for continual support for my students! I will be forever grateful for the support.
This fall my 8th graders were able to each receive a personal whiteboard, eraser, and 2 expo markers to increase their active participation during lessons. Students are more engaged, there is more accountability, students can express their creativity, and they love table group review games!
This fall, EPAK provided us with the opportunity to start a Social Justice Library for our 7th - 12th graders. Bringing in a diverse set of texts for our students to engage with is an important and powerful way to help our students to engage with a variety of perspectives and to develop a more nuanced view of the world. Our Social Justice Library also provides opportunities for students to see themselves represented as authors and people in positions of power, thereby empowering them to expand their vision for themselves and their future. EPAK has been a long-standing supporter of our school and we are extremely grateful for the work they do supporting our students!
This Fall EPAK granted our third grade a chance to go on a field trip. All 4 third grade classes were able to learn about the Native Americans around us through a morning full of activities that the Ohlones performed on a daily basis. Without their grant money, we would not have had the money to pay for this field trip. Nothing can beat the amazement and smiles my students had when they learned how to make string and and play games Ohlone kids played. I hope EPAK continues to serve the local teachers and help provide all that we can for our students.
EPAK has continually helped provide materials for our school and grade level. By combining a few teacher grants, we were able to take the entire grade level on one field trip to the SF Exploratorium. Without our EPAK grant, our students would have never had the chance to explore science the way the Exploratorium does it.
I am so proud to be a part of the East Palo Alto Kid's Foundation. Teachers are able to implement their incredible ideas with the support of our donors. Students get to engage in fun projects, go on inspiring field trips, and have new materials that support their learning. The model of granting directly to the teacher is simple, yet incredibly effective and efficient. Here's to 20 more years EPAK!
The East Palo Alto Kids Foundation enriched my classroom through a grant for a field trip. All year we had studied California History and I was able to take my students to Sacramento to see Sutter's Fort, The Railroad Museum, The Old School House, and the Capitol Building. It is an event that 5 years later, my students still come back and talk about. I now serve on the Board of EPAK and it is my pleasure to read through the incredible projects and plans that teachers have for their students. The EPAK donors make these plans a reality. The Board is an incredibly generous group of volunteers dedicated to equality in education. It is a fantastic organization.
The EPAK Foundation provides grants on a consistent basis to the Ravenswood School District. The projects, furniture, and supplies that they fund allow our students to be a part of the 'haves' at least at school. Teachers have the resources to provide a comparable education to the better funded districts in great part due to this organization. Property values need not be all that shows we value our students. Thank you EPAK donors and volunteers!
Treena Joi (Belle Haven Elementary)
East Palo Alto Kids Foundation (EPAK) has such a simple, but hugely impactful goal: Provide micro-grants to teachers for books, science kits, field trips, math manipulatives, small technology devices, and other curriculum enrichment materials. Easily apply. Receive. Done. I can’t think of a more deserving group of people than those that teach – but especially those that serve in an underprivileged district, such as Ravenswood. To support those teachers and to affect their students in this small but meaningful way is the elegance of EPAK.
I love to donate to EPAK because I know the money is all going to the teachers and students in this low-income school district. Teachers get direct grants for what they want and need for their classrooms. It can be fieldtrips or books or technology or classroom supplies or whatever! These teachers have a much lower salary scale than other districts in the surrounding area, and yet they teach in Ravenswood for the love of the kids. They deserve all the support we can give them.
EPAK is a marvelous organization which offers opportunities for the community students which they may not otherwise be able to experience. EPAK has allowed me to provide my students with rich reading materials to comply with Common Core Standards and the students enjoyment. The students are so thrilled when new materials arrive and are motivated to dive into them! Thank you EPAK for you continued support and generosity!
You don't get a better "bang for the buck" than with a donation to EPAK. Your funds support key projects that are identified by the teachers in the classrooms. Such a simple but powerful model.
East Palo Alto Kids Foundation efficiently delivers funds to teachers who put them right to use in their classroom. EPAK has made great strides over the past years and is going strong. Last year only 4% of our donations went toward administrative costs. The rest goes to the classrooms!
My Foundation is pleased to support EPAK. They provide direct aid to the teachers in the classroom with very little to no overhead. A great organization!
This is a great foundation that supports more than 4,500 disadvantaged students in East Palo Alto and eastern Menlo Park public schools. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity, as an EPAK volunteer, to help promote educational opportunities and academic success.
Thank you EPAK for providing me with this grant. This is my 4th year teaching in East Palo Alto and my students and I have benefitted from your hard work and generosity every year!
I have been a supporter of EPAK for many years. It is a true grassroots success story! Each fall teachers in who work in the Ravenswood City School District schools are able to make their classrooms better places to learn and thrive through grants from EPAK.
I have been teaching in the Ravenswood School District for several years. EPAK has been a tremendous partner to me and the students of Ravenswood. I have been able to purchase relevant and grade level appropriate books for the students and phonics activities. As of late, I've been able to purchase non-fiction books that are aligned with the Common Core Standards.
The students benefit tremendously from the generous EPAK donors.
I can't thank them enough!
My EPAK grant helped me purchase much needed materials for reteaching math concepts at the middle school level. Thanks EPAK!
I am a first year teacher in the Ravenswood school district and I am so grateful for the EPAK grant. I was able to use this grant to fill my library with leveled books so students can continue to grow as readers. Also, I was able to get a lot low-level high interest non-fiction books which my students have been asking for. My library will now be filled with books my students love and they will be able to enjoy reading and grow as readers!
I am a teacher new to my school in East Palo Alto. I am teaching first grade, and very much wanted a document camera and projector to help teach my students. My students are fascinated by being able to see my teacher model! I can show exactly what I am expecting, give visual directions, model handwriting, and much more. I am also able to attach my computer and show video clips and even read books aloud to my students. This use of technology makes my students learning experience much more interactive. My EPAK grant was generous enough to also allow me to purchase some leveled books that we were lacking but needed in my classroom. The process was simple and clear, and I was able to get my materials in a timely manner. This was my first EPAK grant but I plan to apply in the future at every opportunity! Thank you EPAK, you are a vital resource to me and my students!
In the past two years, EPAK has helped my second and third graders go on three fieldtrips and fill our library full of non-fiction, high interest books! Our trips have been to the Chabot Space and Science Museum, where they learned about space, a theatrical performance of one of the books we read, and the Lindsay Wildlife Museum. These expensive trips would not have been possible without EPAK. Thanks for helping our students get the rich experiences that they might have otherwise missed!
EPAK is a fantastic organization that has been supporting my students and me since my first year teaching, four years ago! I feel such gratitude that there are tremendous organizations like EPAK committed to supporting communities and need, and providing resources to help close the achievement gap. EPAK has helped fund math manipulatives, numerous anchor texts for reading, a document camera, and wonderful literature for science, social studies and expository text units for my first grade classroom. Thank you, EPAK!
I have been the recipient of a total of nine EPAK funded projects. It is challenging to describe the great impact these funds have had on my students. Every year, I am more skilled at utilizing these funds to support the specific needs of my students. This year, my students are more engaged than ever with reading and their novel units of study. Because of this grant, my seventh graders are getting the extra support they need to comprehend text at a high level. Thank you, EPAK, for making this happen!
This year I was able to get iPod Touches and Kindle Fires for use in my 6th grade math class. (I will be able to continue to use them next year with my language arts and social studies classes.) iPod Touches were being used by some other teachers in lower grades, but I was skeptical as to whether the game-like apps would really be useful for 6th grade students and also whether apps that were applicable would engage them. I was pleasantly surprised [after using the iPod Touches (first grant) and then the Kindle Fires (second grant)] as I noticed that students were responding much more quickly, and without counting on their fingers, whenever I would ask students for simple calculations (such as 13-5). Previously at least half of my students had to count on their fingers when asked questions like this. I was also pleasantly surprised at how many students chose to use apps that were strictly practice (i.e.: not gamelike at all) for at least part of their time using the devices. In all, using this technology was more effective than I had hoped. The great thing about EPAK is that you do not have to jump through hoops to get your grant. As long as you get the grant request in on time, give a reasonable explanation for what you are requesting, and get the receipts in on time, you can get some great materials for your classroom. In the past I have gotten other technology and a field trip.
I am a brand new teacher in East Palo Alto and was given $250 to start building my classroom in the beginning of the year. This grant is specificly for new teachers in the district. This was an amazing gift from EPAK that allowed me to start gathering materials that my students and I needed to begin my year. I am so appreciative that I was able to get enough journals for reading and writing that students use on a daily basis as well as many other key classroom items. With so much going on your first year, EPAK gave me the extra help I needed to feel more prepared in starting my career.
EPAK (East Palo Alto Kids Foundation) provides $500 grants for classroom teachers twice yearly (Fall and Spring). Each year I have been able to purchase $1000 worth of books and hands-on enrichment materials for my first graders. EPAK requires that the materials bought have to stay in the classroom, even if the teacher leaves, so they are able to enrich our students year after year. I have been able to buy enough books for all of my students to have guided reading books (books just at their level to help them incrementally learn how to read). In the past two years that I have been using these books, I have seen such an impact on my students' reading. This year, I had 85% of my students far below grade level at the begining of the year (did not know letter names or sounds or sightwords such as "the"). After using these guided reading books with my students, now (in June) 80% of my students are reading at or above grade level! EPAK has also furnished my classroom with hands-on math and science materials. Many of my students have never visited a zoo or museum, so it is important for me to provide them with those opportunities within the classroom. EPAK has allowed me to purchase fossils, x-rays of animals, magnifying glasses, and thermometers, as well as materials to do hands-on experiments. This kind of exposure starts to close the gap between the "haves" and "have-nots" in our society. EPAK can really be classified as a social justice organization because of the many opportunities and experiences that it provides our kids in East Palo Alto
EPAK is an awesome grant provided to teachers who work in the East Palo Alto district. It provides an opportunity to teachers to purchase necessary supplies, tools, and even field trips for all their students and to help them learn and grow as people in society. EPAK has given my students the chance to participate and attend field trips outside of East Palo Alto. I love it and most importantly, my students LOVE it!! Thank you EPAK!!
Thanks to EPAK students in 8th grade have been able to go on field trips to the court in San Jose. Visiting the court and being able to observe arraingments for traffic violations, misdemeanors and some times non violence trials have helped students comprehend why we need laws in society and school. Why it is better to avoid getting in trouble, to stay in school and to pursue a higher education.
Last year was my first year of teaching. I knew I was beginning the year with little and was in need of much. I was, therefore, very excited to learn about EPAK. With the generous grants I have received from EPAK, I have been able to support my students need in a far greater capacity. I was able to take them on a field trip to the Discovery Musuem, buy materials for a class project, and enhance their independent learning time with various activities purchased with the grant. I am so grateful to benefit from a foundation that cares so much about its community and the teachers that are in it. Thank you EPAK!
EPAK is an wonderful organization that provides funds to public educators in East Palo Alto to purchase items and/or materials for learning.
I felt like a kid at Christmas time opening presents when I began to receive the items I was able to purchase through EPAK. The anticipation of using these items to help the students I work with learn to initiate and interact in cooperative play with their peers had building up the moment I found out I have been awarded the EPAK grant. Year after year, EPAK provides the opportunity to the students I work with to have an enriched and multifaceted learning experience through materials and items I am able to purchase.
I work as an early childhood special education teacher in a full inclusion setting. This means I work with children with and without special needs in general education placement. I work with children between the ages of 3 and 5.
For many of the students I work with), one of their greatest challenges lies in their ability to participate in cooperative play. Many students have difficulty initiating cooperative play or understanding how to sustain cooperative play with peers. I also have students that do not show a great interested in play with peers and it can take a lot of motivation from both peers and adults to have them engage.
The main idea of my project proposed to EPAK was to try and encourage cooperative play and learning through movement and gross motor activities. Preschoolers naturally love music, to move around constantly and are constantly learning through tactile and kinesthetic activities. For most preschoolers anything that involves being outside and/or moving around is a high interest for them. I thought this was a natural way to try and encourage peer interaction. Some of the items I I purchased included items for relay races, music and props for dancing, balls, and a large bubble kit.
I can’t even begin to describe how it feels to see a child that usually prefers to play by themselves being drawn into the activity and interacting with his peers. A few days ago we organized a relay race outside using a egg and spoon race kit I had purchased. Children try to balance the egg on the spoon while walking; if the egg drops it cracks open to reveal a yolk. One of students that tends to play by himself outside, came over to the game of his own accord and participated in the relay. Later that day when his mother picked him up, she asked him what he had done today and he replied “eggs”. I was ecstatic to see a group cooperative game had made such an impression on him.
Each year, as budget cuts increase, the more and more EPAK becomes a valuable resource to the public school system and educators. I can not put into words how invaluable their organization is. Their generosity and passion to help the children in this community to become capable learners.
EPAK has been helping me deliver quality service to my students. Through my grants I have been able to purchase specialized materials that have allowed me to promote the motor skills of many students (both general ed students and students with individualized education plans) in the Ravenswood School District. Thank you EPAK!
Epak has been benifiting my students for the past four years.It has been wonderful to get these grants twice a year. I have been able to take my students on different field trips. Last year we were able to go to a childrens museum, and CPK. This year I was having trouble challenging my higher students during workshop, so I got centers that are geared toward the star test to not only challenge the students, but help them on the star test. With out EPAK I would not be able to do these wonderful things for my students. It is a great organization.