Aspen School gets $3,000 grant

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Reading help > Grant will pay for special reading kits

By Tris DeRoma

Students at Aspen Elementary School got an early holiday gift when Wells Fargo Inc. and the Golden Apple Foundation announced the school won a $3,000 grant through the organizations’ “Teacher Partnership” program.
According to Aspen Elementary School Principal Kathryn Vandenkieboom, Aspen third-grade teacher Alisa Rolfe led the quest to win the grant, and it will be money well spent.
The school has earmarked the grant for some special reading kits that will help students in grades one through three catch up on their reading skills.
“These are for when a kid isn’t quite at grade level,” said Vandenkieboom. “The instruction that comes along with this kit is very targeted. You know exactly what part of reading the student is having a hard time with, it might be fluency, it might be comprehension. This kit helps target that instruction.”
Called Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI), the reading kits have been very beneficial to the school’s students, said Vandenkieboom, who became aware of the kits through recommendations from the teachers. With the grant, as well as help from a $1,500 contribution from the Los Alamos Public Schools Foundation, the school will be able to purchase a kit for the third grade.
“It’s a program that teachers can really sink their teeth into,” she said. “All the different parts of it are really interesting to students, it engages them. “It’s a really great product, and we’re hoping to make just a little bit more progress with our kids on reading and writing.”
Superintendent of Schools Kurt Steinhaus congratulated Rolfe, and Vandenkieboom for their efforts, adding that these are the type of grants the schools need.
“We are being very strategic about pursuing grants that track with school board goals,” Steinhaus said. ”We don’t just go for every grant. We go for grants that directly benefit students.”
Lisa Riley, Regional President for Wells Fargo’s New Mexico/western border region, said the grant is part of a larger initiative to help schools in the region the Wells Fargo corporation serves.
“Wells Fargo is proud to support New Mexico’s educators and is committed to supporting opportunities that will enrich children’s academic experience,” said Riley. “We are particularly excited that these grants will directly help teachers and impact students in our state.”
Thirty-two teachers from schools in eight counties benefited from this round of grants from Wells Fargo and the Golden Apple Foundation. Rolfe and Aspen Elementary received the highest amount of the $49,753.63 in grant money.
Brian O’Connell, executive director of the Golden Apple Foundation of New Mexico said without Wells Fargo’s support, the Golden Apple Foundation could not have quite the impact it has had.
“Golden Apple is so grateful to have a partner like Wells Fargo in supporting teachers,” said O’Connell. “These grants do so much to recognize how creative and entrepreneurial teachers are, and the money makes a real difference for students. Wells Fargo’s support is a perfect example of how the community can support education in New Mexico.”