Inside Aera
Aera in the Community Dec 19, 2019

Funding for Ventura schools helps inspire love of reading and literacy

With Aera’s support, teachers bring great ideas to life

Ventura - CeCe Johnson and group

Teacher-librarian CeCe Johnson displays the $1,000 grant she received to boost reading at Ventura’s DeAnza Middle School. With Johnson are (from left) Aera employees Michele Newell, Greg Park, Trisha Botten, Nicole Kennedy and Will Spear.

Dozens of teachers and their students in the Ventura Unified School District are benefitting from a $74,000 grant from Ventura Education Partnership (VEP), funded partly by Aera.

Aera’s $10,000 contribution to the grant aims to improve reading and engage students, from kindergarten to high school. Teachers use the funds to entice students to read through innovative, engaging activities.

Buena Vista teacher Katherine Loughman said she’ll use the $1,000 she received to purchase contemporary and diverse novels for book groups. That, she added, will give students the opportunity to discuss important issues and connect with characters that reflect the diversity in her classroom.

“The key to literacy is building a love of reading with books that engage students about relevant issues, Loughman said. “The money from Aera will do just that.”

Ventura teacher Monica Lukins and group

DeAnza Middle School teacher Monica Lukins (with check) will use her $1,000 grant to bring a Renaissance Revival project to life for her 7th graders. With Lukins are (from left) Aera volunteers Trisha Botten, Nicole Kenney, Michele Newell, Will Spear and Greg Park.

Over the past 10 years, VEP has relied on the generosity of community partners like Aera to provide more than $1.3 million in small grants to VUSD teachers. For the 2019-20 school year, VEP funded 81 projects for VUSD schools and district programs. Grants of up to $1,000 each were awarded for innovative projects that supplement core curricula.

“Supporting local teachers and students helps to build a stronger community, something we strongly believe in,” said Michele Newell, Aera public affairs coordinator for Ventura County. “Teachers have great ideas and projects they’d like to bring to their students, but they don’t always have the funds to do so. We want to help bring some of those great ideas to life.”

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