CC Rotary and CCEF Fund Classroom Projects for CCUSD Teachers

The Culver City Rotary Community Foundation (CCRCF) was proud to partner with the Culver City Education Foundation for an amazing $20,000 grant distribution to more than 50 teachers from CCUSD.

Many teachers received more than $200 each to go toward their classroom projects, with a handful of $2,000 grants given to complete more robust grade-level or school projects.

“We are so thankful for our amazing Culver City teachers and we are so happy to help support them,” said Jodie Fratantuno, vocational chair of the CCRCF.

Awardees attended a festive reception at the Culver City Rotary Plaza, where Fratantuno,
CCRC President Carmela Raack, and CCEF Executive Director Wendy Hamill distributed award checks and in-person congratulations. CCUSD educators, whose students range from preschoolers to high school seniors, submitted grant requests to fund classroom tools and materials, books, supplemental curriculum materials, field trips, technology accessories, and the means to ensure safe and organized indoor and outdoor learning spaces.

“CCEF is so pleased to partner with the Culver City Rotary Community Foundation to bring these resources into CCUSD classrooms, and to support our teachers’ innovative projects,” said Wendy Hamill.

The need for diverse books at appropriate reading levels in English, Spanish, and Japanese was a common request from teachers across many schools for their general education, special education and language immersion classrooms. Building a library of diverse books and learning materials is also a priority for the OCD After-Care Program at Farragut. After-care programs are often “overlooked,” by funding sources, “even
though these are the same students that go to our elementary school,” explained Rotary Teacher Grant awardee Aretha Tillett.

Teachers at various campuses received funding for supplemental learning curriculums for social studies, social emotional learning, and early math and literacy at various campuses. Farragut second grade teacher Minyoung Phai said, “Specifically for my students with below-grade-level reading skills who are also foster youth, homeless, English language learners, and students of color, strong, rigorous, and consistent phonics instruction resources will have a truly positive and meaningful impact on these students’ futures.”

Hands-on math learning materials connect mathematics to real-world contexts, from a “Learning with Numbers” program funded for Cyndi Flowers’ Special Education OCD Preschool classroom, to 150 wipe boards that enable an engaging “Thinking Classroom” approach for sixth graders at CCMS. Mason Sustayta hopes that his fifth-grade students at El Rincon will envision themselves as mathematicians through posters featuring mathematicians of different cultures and backgrounds, and Keely Dowdall plans to convert her third-grade classroom at Farragut into a pizza shop to enable fun, interactive investigations of fractions.

Many proposals demonstrate how teachers across the district understand the need to integrate elements of fun into learning. “Play can be rigorous, promote a growth mindset, can be connected to teaching points, and can also relate to STEAM careers that students can see themselves doing someday,” said El Rincon Kindergarten teacher Jennifer Zapata. Added her colleague Katherine Gray, “Dramatic play is important for kindergarten-aged students because it offers them opportunities to express themselves and make meaningful connections with their peers. It also helps students practice essential social skills like taking turns, problem solving, self-regulation, and cooperation.”

“The Culver City Rotary Community Foundation is thrilled to support the important work our teachers do in the classroom, which in the long-term benefits not only the 7,000+ students of CCUSD, but also our broader Culver City community,” said Fratantuno.

Eileen Pottinger, the Art & Innovation Lab Teacher at Farragut said, “My favorite thing about the Rotary Teacher Grant is feeling supported by the community. Knowing that the people making these decisions are all local and have a good understanding of what CCUSD does helps me feel that my work is appreciated in a very concrete, personal way. This grant really makes me feel empowered as a teacher to do what is right for my students.”


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