By Dana Delgado
Liberty Hill Elementary School Music Teacher Linda Downey is in the running for some much needed grant money and with the deadline quickly approaching, is looking for votes to support her proposal.
The contest is part of Farmers Insurance “Thank a Million Teachers” program launched by The University of Farmers Education Foundation, which was recently established to promote education. The “Thank a Million Teachers” initiative honors teachers and offers them opportunities to apply for grants for school or classroom projects.
At stake is a $2,500 grant dedicated to the purchase of “Computers on Wheels,” a mobile unit that contains state of the art laptops for a group of 25 students. Voting is open now through March 31 at www.thankamillionteachers.com.
There are other Liberty Hill Elementary proposals on the ballot, but Principal Jan Tredemeyer said it was decided to concentrate on Ms. Downey’s computer proposal so as not to spread out their votes and increase their chances of winning. The school asks residents to visit the website and vote for Ms. Downey who is representing the South Central Region.
Since only the top 20 proposals appear on the list from each region, voters might need to type in their city, state and zip code.
Before spring break, Ms. Downey was among the top two vote getters. Since that time, the Liberty Hill teacher has fallen back in the pack so she needs everyone’s votes. Every individual over 18 can vote only once a day for the same proposal.
“Ms. Downey’s proposal was chosen because it’s a good cause that will help all the students,” said Mrs. Tredemeyer.
“I thought it was a good idea because kids are so attuned to computers and there is so much good software out there,” Ms. Downey said.
To qualify to submit a grant, every teacher had to be a current kindergarten through 12th grade teacher in the United States. Secondly, every educator had to have been thanked on ThankAMillionTeachers.com to be eligible to apply for the $2,500 grant.
Ms. Downey received several notes of appreciation that are posted on the website.
One person wrote, “Thanks for believing in my kids.” Another note posted read, “Thanks for making a difference in the lives of America’s kids.” Another wrote, “You are appreciated for enriching the lives of students.”
Charged with tending to students with activities in the early morning before school starts, Ms. Downey has had to pull a figurative rabbit out of a hat to keep up to 400 students focused, settled and hopefully learning.
“As the music teacher at Liberty Hill Elementary School, one of my duties is the morning gathering before assembly,” Ms. Downey said. “I introduced games, contests, and fun drills into what used to be a waiting time, because I knew these 15-20 minutes could be such a productive time for a gym full of 5-6 year olds, who are rested and eager to start their day!”
Her challenge, she stated in her proposal, was to maintain the interest of 22 classes.
“It is a tricky task!” she said. “Having taught for many years, I knew I had to grab their attention and keep things moving or I would lose them. Technology could help us, but we seem to often be waiting on the computer to catch up with us!”
The carts would be available to the students and teachers so that individual or group activities could be conducted using technology and engaging software within the classrooms.
“My wish is that AdoptAClassroom.org would be able to help, by providing a laptop and cart, remote, interactive software, and four I-Pads to make the activities lively, fast-moving, and interactive,” Mrs. Downey added. “We already have captured their attention in these vital minutes; the addition of these tools would help us to make these few minutes even more productive and fruitful.”
Ms. Downey is a third generation teacher with over 30 years of experience teaching music mainly in private religious schools. Seven of those years have been at Liberty Hill. Her mother taught second and third grade music and her grandmother taught in a one-room schoolhouse.
She is a native of Kansas who grew up in Florida before moving to Texas to attend International Bible College in San Antonio. Ms. Downey earned a degree in Religious Education and obtained her teaching certification much later.
“I love to learn so I make sure I am continually learning,” she said. “As a music teacher, my job is to show love for music.”
Ms. Downey says she also tries to help out where help is needed including assisting with special events and helping students in the computer lab with their reading skills. Once a year, for the past four years, her students participate in singing the National Anthem at a Stars Hockey Game.
Recipients of the grants are expected to be announced shortly after the voting closes on March 31 on ThankAMillionTeachers.com.