Schools receive foreign language enhancement grants

More than a dozen teachers from the Adirondack region, from Peru to Newcomb, have received financial support to enrich and enhance foreign language instruction thanks to the generosity of a Keene Valley family and many other supporters.

The Adirondack Foreign Language Enhancement Fund at Adirondack Foundation recently awarded a total of $21,800 in grants to 15 foreign language teachers. Each year, the fund makes a limited number of grants available to Adirondack schools for initiatives that increase capacity for foreign language instruction.

“Now in its second year, the Adirondack Foreign Language Enhancement Fund is making a difference in our schools,” said Cali Brooks, executive director of Adirondack Foundation, based in Lake Placid. “Teachers are using grants from this fund to bring new technology like iPads and Chromebooks into the classroom, allowing foreign language students to connect with classrooms around the world. The landscape of education is changing rapidly — these grants help teachers and students stay ahead of the curve.

“As the fund continues to grow, we encourage schools from all over the Adirondacks to apply for grants,” Brooks added.

Grants are awarded to projects that support immersion in French and Spanish language and culture, open up opportunities to explore new teaching technologies, and support career enhancement training for teachers, including workshops and conferences. Grants typically range from $500 to $1,500, but larger grants are awarded for exceptional projects.

This year, eight grants were awarded to projects that brought new technology to foreign language classes. Teachers from the Lake Placid and Saranac Lake school districts used the money to purchase iPads and Chromebooks.

“Thanks to the Adirondack Foreign Language Enhancement Fund, my students have received five iPads for use in the classroom,” said Heather Odell-Fey, a French teacher at Lake Placid High School. “Integration of these iPads will broaden the scope of technology implemented in our curriculum. In particular, the students can use them to develop new ways in which to post to a Wiki – a shared website – they have created with peers learning English in French Guyana. Forging connections with students around the world helps to create purposeful language learning and is a fun way for students to relate to content material.”

“We applied to Adirondack Foundation so we could initiate a foreign language lab at the high school,” said Doug Zobel, a Spanish teacher at Saranac Lake High School. “This will be a lab that is ideally available to use any time of the day by potentially every foreign language student here. Thanks for the generous act, on behalf of our foreign language learners.”

The fund also accepts applications for language and cultural immersion field trips, on a limited basis, for both students and teachers. Applicants are responsible for the bulk of the fundraising.

The French Club at AuSable Valley Central School, led by advisor and French teacher Miriam Worthington, used its grant to help fund a trip to the French Riviera for 14 students — who raised most of the money for the trip themselves.

“They were able to see some of the most beautiful and famous cities and sites in France,” Worthington said. “We would like to thank Adirondack Foundation for its interest in our students and its dedication to enriching children’s lives through travel and immersion in another culture.”

A Spanish class at Lake Placid High School received a grant to support a service project trip to Costa Rica. Spanish teacher Jennifer Lawrence explained that students — who received most of their support from their parents and community members — will live with host families and be completely immersed in Spanish language and culture.

“Culture can only be taught to a certain extent; to get a deep understanding, it needs to be experienced,” Lawrence said. “This is how I and many others have found our love for Spanish. It’s more than just the words in the language. This experience will stay with the students their entire lives and will affect who they are as people, by opening their minds to new perspectives and ways of life.”

For more information or to make a gift to the fund, visit www.generousact.org or call Adirondack Foundation at 518-523-9904.