Kids now excited to go to school thanks to post COVID grant

Classrooms are more enjoyable for select students, after their teacher used a grant to purchase needed materials.
Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 9:01 PM MDT
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GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KJCT) - It’s no surprise that back to school season can be costly. Not just for parents, but the educators in the classroom as well. This year, teachers are eligible to receive up to $1,000 to purchase classroom learning materials thanks to a post COVID relief grant. This is a collaborative effort between Colorado Department of Education, and the non-profit, Donors Choose. Offering $11 million statewide with the intention to tackle learning impacts, post pandemic. One local teacher utilized the funding.

“Whenever you put special on the name of something, it triples or Quadruples the price of the item,” said Laura Coulter, a Special Education teacher with District 51. For 25 years, Coulter has taught with District 51. Four of those years so far, were spent at Wingate Elementary school. Working with students who have significant support needs. Including emotional and behavioral disorders. “It makes it really hard for us to be able to support the students the way they need to be supported,” she added.

CDE and Donors Choose awarded Coulter $900 for classroom support materials. She was able to purchase headphones that connect to computers that will pick up on what students are saying and translate that into writing. She says access to technology like this removes the blockages some students face when learning. These students now see themselves as part of the classroom. Which keeps engagement high. “They can produce and share their writing with their friends, just like everyone else is doing.” Coulter added.

Items like tactile letters for students with visual impairments. Calm strips to help students focus during learning hours, and feelings books to teach emotional learning and assist learners with processing their feelings. Coulter says Neuro-diverse classrooms like hers have a budget to follow and without the grant, those funds would wind up going to paper towels, wipes, and other necessities.

“Many of our parents have communicated to me that their child is happy to come to school everyday now, it’s great!” Coulter added when asked about classroom culture improvements. She says she agrees that this one time grant is a step in the right direction, but more funds should be allocated towards education, especially with the mandated services Special Education teachers provide. “We are mandated by law to provide these services, but the government has never matched funding for that mandate,” Coulter said.

She closed her thoughts, saying special educators do everything they can to meet the needs of the kids, but without proper funding, it’s difficult.