published Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Rivermont Elementary teachers reap grants for student projects

  • photo
    Rivermont Elementary students are seen in this file photo.
    Photo by Angela Lewis /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Students at Rivermont Elementary now can dance, spin and hop through a school day.

Dan Basler, the school's physical education teacher, received about $5,000 from the Unum insurance company at its annual Strong Schools Grant luncheon Tuesday afternoon. Basler said he will use the money so Rivermont can implement a program called Math and Movement that combines exercises with math games.

Teachers from Red Bank Elementary also collected grant money for Math and Movement on Tuesday. In all, Unum gave away more than $50,000 to 58 teachers. The money will go toward all sorts of activities ranging from teaching students how to build soap-box cars to paying a professional weaver to lug her loom into class.

A Unum spokesman said 144 teachers applied for the grants, the most since the company started handing them out in 2008. Teachers filled out a six-page application in the fall explaining the type of program they would launch with the grant money. The program should be able to promote critical thinking, be used by other teachers and show measurable results.

Teachers handed in their applications by late October, and a five-person committee of Unum and school system employees selected the recipients last month.

When Basler found out he would get the $5,000, he remembers thinking, "This is exactly what I need."

The Math and Movement program is designed to reach the students Basler said often struggle in classrooms -- the ones with the jittery legs and boundless energy who can't pay attention.

"I am extremely thankful for this," said Angie Hudson, a third-grade language arts and social studies teacher at the Chattanooga School for Liberal Arts. She said she will buy three iPads for the classroom with her grant money.

"If it weren't for the community, we wouldn't have some of the resources we do. School budgets -- they do the best they can. But a grant like this is a real blessing."

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