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Growing Good Works

You’ve got big ideas about how you can make a difference for your chapter and your community—and NEA has grants to help support them. See how these Student Program chapters did it.

By Ankita Rao

CLASS Grant--Read Across Carolina

Who better to read “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” than a man who climbed Mount Everest?

Dr. Patrick Hickey, a nursing professor who conquered the world’s highest peak, read to some of the 250 students from the urban Columbia, South Carolina, area at Read Across Carolina 2009.

“I’ve seen what these students do not have, and they might not find the motivation to read in the classroom,” says Jessica Graling, who is now the student leader of the South Carolina Education Association-Student Program.

Organized by Graling and several other SCEA student leaders, the day-long event spanned three South Carolina schools--USC-Columbia, Clemson, and Coastal Carolina University.

Read Across Carolina brought local teachers, librarians, and future educators together to inspire elementary school students. An NEA CLASS grant helped provide pizza and a Scholastic book for every child.

Read Across Carolina was funded in part by an NEA CLASS Grant.


The SCEA students gave each child a chance to listen to stories read by The Cat in the Hat and children’s author Karen Petit. “People appreciated having a great free community event,” Graling says.

CLASS grants: Apply for up to $1,000 to fund your local community outreach efforts. Application deadlines: First semester, August 31; Second semester, January 31.

SOAR Grant--Education Rush

Freshmen busy settling into dorms and meeting friends might not have their eye on professional organizations yet, but support from groups like the National Education Association’s Student Program can be vital in preparing for their careers.

With the help of NEA’s 2008-2009 SOAR grant, the Alabama Education Association set out to encourage freshmen and sophomore college students to get involved through their project, Education Rush.

The grant paid for campus recruitment activities, advisors, promotion materials, and leadership training for selected students.

“There are a lot of things they won’t necessarily get in the classroom that they need,” said Sandra Jackson, the Alabama Student Program director.

She says the Student Alabama Education Association (SAEA) helps future teachers understand the government process behind education, acquire leadership through service, and network at a state or national level.

Education Rush resulted inmore than 100 new Student members. Although it's a significant step forward, Jackson hopes that ongoing efforts will lead to an even larger increase.

One major hurdle, says Jackson, is that students often don’t see a need for professional organizations until they need liability insurance to practice teaching.

“The hardest part is convincing them of the relevance,” she said.

Jackson hopes she can improve outreach to students with more funding and grant money. Next year’s plans include more faculty participation and better use of additional publicity.

That kind of support goes a long way, she says.

SOAR grants. Intended to help chapters organize and recruite new members. Application deadlines: First semester, August 31; Second semester, January 31.


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