By taking the time to thank their teachers, CPS students have secured a richer academic experience for classmates throughout the District.
This week, Katie Friedl, Allison Vanek, and Karina Wietholter, elementary school teachers at Fisk, Suder and Newberry respectively, each received a $2,500 grant as part of "Thank A Million Teachers" – a national campaign from Farmers Insurance and AdoptAClassroom.org.
"So often as teachers, we have big ideas and say, if only I had the money," said Wietholter, who teaches 6th and 7th-grade Language Arts. "Now I can buy the things a reading teacher can never get enough of…books. I want my students to love reading, and will stop at nothing to make that happen."
The awards were the result of grant proposals written by these three teachers and voted upon by the public.
"Every person I have ever known was voting for my project," said Wietholter. "My students even created music videos where they took a song and changed the words to be about voting for me."
But before they could write a grant proposal, teachers had to be made eligible by receiving a thank you. Through the "Thank A Million Teachers" program, students nationwide were encouraged to write an online thank you note to a teacher who had positively impacted their lives.
"I was thanked by the parents of a student I taught at a different CPS school," said Katie Friedl, who now teaches first grade at Fisk. "They thanked me for doing so much to help their child succeed, which meant the world to me."
A Nationally Board Certified Teacher, Friedl saw the grant proposal as an opportunity to improve her practice.
"Becoming an NBCT trains you to always be on the lookout for resources that improve your teaching and classroom atmosphere," she said. "That's why I decided to apply."
Friedl focused her grant proposal on creating a curriculum that will be in step with the District's new science standards.
"In first grade, you need an interactive, hands-on approach to science," she said. "To do this, you need lots of materials. Putting things in their hands is what increases a student's inquiry and discovery. I'm ecstatic that I'll be able to provide that opportunity to my students."
The CPS teachers recognized this week will receive their supplies from AdoptAClassroom.org, who partners with Farmers Insurance to help provide teachers nationwide with the materials they need to do the best work possible in their classrooms. "Thank A Million Teachers" is an ongoing program, with Farmers recognizing 30 teachers on a bimonthly basis. Students wishing to thank a teacher can visit thankamillionteachers.com.