Inside Aera
Community Jan 22, 2019

Aera ‘impact grants’ boost San Ardo, Bradley classroom libraries

Aera’s Kathy Miller (right center, in blue) presents Bradley Elementary School teacher Joan Tomooka (in white) a $500 Impact Grant. The funds have brought more books, science materials and smiles to Tomooka’s classroom.

Four Monterey County teachers receive the funds, but it’s the students who benefit most.

Students in Amy Ardouin’s fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms in San Ardo, California, love the “Who Would Win?” books.

The nonfiction series gives young readers the chance to predict who would win in a potential match-up between two real-life animals.

San Ardo Union Elementary School teachers Joanne Mapalo (left in red) and Amy Ardouin (far right) say their students are excited with their new books and motivated to read more. At far left (in blue) is Aera’s Kathy Miller.

Ardouin’s class library now has five of the popular books, plus many other fiction and nonfiction books at various reading levels, with the help of a $500 Impact Grant from Aera Energy.

Ardouin is one of four teachers in southern Monterey County who are growing their classroom libraries after receiving more than $2,000 in Aera grants. Recipients also included Joanne Mapalo, who, like Ardouin, teaches in the San Ardo Union Elementary School District; and Bradley Elementary School teachers Lindsay Lopez and Joan Tomooka.

Aera’s Impact Grants provide financial support for educational programming that enhances students’ academic development. Aera has made similar grants to school districts in Kern and Monterey counties for over a decade.

“Teachers have great ideas and projects they’d like to bring to their students, but discretionary funds aren’t always available,” said Kathy Miller, Aera public affairs coordinator for Monterey County. “We want to help bring some of those great ideas to life. Helping local teachers and students helps build a stronger community. That’s something we believe in strongly.”

This San Ardo student is looking forward to reading a new edition of the popular “Who Would Win?” book series.

Science supplies – and a couch

Lopez has not only used her $575 grant to fund nonfiction books but also to create a space–complete with a couch–where students can read and discuss the books.

With her $500 grant, Tomooka purchased science equipment and supplies to enhance student participation in science lessons focused on science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics.

“Student scientists must practice critical thinking and be creative,” Tomooka said. “By providing them with new lab coats, safety goggles, gloves, microscopes and books, they can think and feel like a real scientist. It’s motivating for them.”

Mapalo, a special education teacher for kindergarteners through eighth-graders, used some of her grant money to buy social-emotional learning-themed books. Those aid students in recognizing and avoiding negative behaviors, managing emotions, making appropriate decisions and behaving responsibly, she said.

“My students were ecstatic when they saw all the new books in the classroom and could not wait to look through them to see what we received,” said Mapalo, who also purchased 14 books from the “Who Would Win?” series.

The teachers say the grants help motivate their students to read for pleasure, which, in turn, improves their reading comprehension and fluency.

“I am so grateful for Aera’s generosity,” Ardouin said. “The students take Accelerated Reader quizzes to work toward reaching their goal. Without the grant, their motivation would not be as high, and their achievement levels would be lower. It has been a huge asset to our reading incentive program.” 

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