The Foundation will ultimately present $150,000 in grants to teachers around the district this summer.
At Hawthorne, the grants were delivered to teachers with big plans to enhance the school’s fine arts curriculum. Hawthorne is a San Antonio Independent School District internal charter with a fine arts focus, as well as Core Knowledge curriculum.
A $5,000 grant to sixth-grade teacher Roberta Moglia’s “Shakespeare (a turn or two) Off Broadway” will bring the works of the Bard to fifth grade and middle school students. The curriculum usually does not cover Shakespeare until high school, but Hawthorne’s fine arts charter once allowed it to produce three plays per year. When Moglia was hired last year, she wanted to resurrect the tradition.
“Our goal is to bring back the Shakespeare plays to Hawthorne,” Moglia said.
She plans to bring in a local theater director to help the students produce three historically outfitted Shakespeare plays at Hawthorne and at the Pearl. Representatives of Silver Ventures, a partner in Hawthorne’s fine arts efforts, were on hand to join in the celebration.
Community engagement is a large part of Hawthorne’s fine arts programming. Located in the River North area, the school takes full advantage of it’s proximity to the Witte Museum, the Briscoe Western Arts Museum, and the San Antonio Museum of Art.
“We go out to them, and they, in turn, come back to us,” said second grade teacher Karen Paris.
In the coming school year, the relationship with the SA Museum of Art will take a major step forward, as Hawthorne becomes one of the museum’s ten partner schools in San Antonio. The partnership is funded by the museum, but director of education Katie Erickson credits the SAISD Foundation with pointing them in the right direction to select partners.
Judy Geelhoed, the executive director of the SAISD Foundation, identifies campuses that might need a boost or a partner to accomplish their mission. She also helps ensure that those schools have the pieces in place to make the most of the partnership. Hawthorne showed itself to be ready and willing to integrate SA Museum of Art visits for every student every year, and to welcome museum staff into their classrooms for further arts instruction. Even when cost isn’t an issue, such cooperation takes logistical commitment, which Hawthorne is demonstrating.
“It’s all about people and structures and organization,” said Erickson.
Another grant awarded to second grade teacher Christopher Scott Sierra will increase community engagement in another medium. With his $4,162 Innovation Grant Sierra plans to expand the school’s publishing program so that students can see their written work travel more widely into the Tobin Hill and Pearl community.
“We write stories, we publish stories, and we share them with our community,” Sierra said.
Students will have access to various publishing tools for traditional bound books, and larger scale graphics production. Sierra hopes to bring in local authors and industry professionals for workshops with the students.
On June 1, Hawthorne will host a Young Authors Conference to showcase the work that has already been done through the program.
More grants will be delivered in the coming weeks, spreading welcome enthusiasm and excitement as the school year winds down.
Derrick Howard, SAISD Foundation board chairman, reported that in the past nine years that the board has been guiding the foundation, it has raised $6 million to fund 1,180 grants. SAISD Foundation grants have served not only as an economic key to open doors in the district, but also an encouragement to teachers striving for excellence with their inner city students.
“(SAISD Foundation) just finds a way to make it happen,” said SAISD Superintendent Pedro Martinez.
Top image: Hawthorne teacher Christopher Sierra shows his surprise by the visit and award. Photo courtesy of SAISD Foundation.