Wood Foundation grants will equip sixth grade center

Published 11:13 pm Wednesday, April 27, 2005

By By ERIN VER BERKMOES / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Students who will be sixth graders next year, along with their parents, were able to take a tour of Oak Manor school Tuesday evening.
The Niles Community Schools, working with the Wood Foundation under the leadership of Trustee Jerry French, who is president of the Niles Community Schools Board of Education, has received two significant grant awards which will allow the district to equip the new sixth grade center with state-of-the-art instructional tools and band instruments and equipment.
The value of these grants exceeds $38,000, in addition, there is an Intermediate School District matching grant of $12,000.
The grant will allow each of the classrooms in the building to be equipped with a ceiling mounted multi-media projector. This projector will enable the teachers to share power point presentations, internet resources, and other software applications with the entire class at anytime.
The teachers will be directing these functions from an instructional station on a mobile cart, which can be moved to any location in the room.
All of the sixth grade students in Niles will be using a laptop computer in the course of their daily classes. They will be able to utilize the building network to display their own work, under teacher control, on the projector in the classroom.
A teachers instructional command station will also include an object projector. This device is the "next generation" overhead projector, which will allow the teacher to utilize the multimedia device to project not just a transparency, but any document or object such as a live dissection, 3-D math demonstration or newspaper article for the whole class to view.
Also, because the building is fully networked, each of the classrooms has the capability to share their screens with every classroom in the building, simultaneously.
Craig added that research and practice have shown that student achievement is directly impacted with this type of technology becomes part of the kids' daily instruction.
The Wood foundation has also agreed to finance the start-up costs for the district's sixth grade band program. Prior to the opening of the sixth grade center, students used the junior high equipment at Ring Lardner. One of the benefits in the creation of the new Oak Manor school is the opportunity to offer band as an elective class to a far greater number of students.
The grant will allow the Oak Manor band rooms to be equipped with such as music stands, instrument racks, percussion instruments, large brass instruments such as tubas, which individual families cannot afford to purchase, and any other tools needed to start-up a band program.
Craig added that over the last five years the involvement of the Wood Foundation and the Hunter Foundation, thanks on a large part to the advocacy of Jerry French and Jim Keenan who serve as trustees of both organizations, is rapidly approaching one quarter of a million dollars.
The students and teachers were also introduced to Robin Hadrick who is the current principal at Oak Manor and will continue to do that job once the school is turned into the sixth grade center.
One of the things that will differ from the current sixth grade set up at the elementary schools is the fact the the students will now get to choose either band, choir or music as a class they attend during the day.
The students will also be receiving more choices during lunch time, with the addition of sandwich and salad bars.
There will be an intramural co-ed sports program offered to the students with sports such as softball, volleyball and any others the students show interest in.
Hadrick is also looking to start a parent advisory group which is similar to the PTO organization at the high school.
The students day will start a bit earlier than what they are used to next year. Their school day will start at 7:30 a.m. and finish at 2:20 p.m. in time to allow them to participate in after-school activities.