by Lou Mancinelli
Teachers at three additional Northwest Philadelphia schools can apply for grants this fall through the recently expanded Mt. Airy Teacher’s Fund, now called the Mt. Airy-Chestnut Hill Teacher’s Fund.
Teachers at Chestnut Hill’s J.S. Jenks Elementary School, at 8301 Germantown Ave., Mt. Airy’s Parkway Northwest High School, at 7500 Germantown Ave. and the John F. McCloskey Elementary School, at 8500 Pickering St. in Mt. Airy, are now able to apply for grants under the expansion.
The new schools have been added because the total amount of allocated funds has gone underutilized the past few years, according to founder Ken Weinstein.
Established in 2007 by Weinstein, owner of Mt. Airy’s Trolley Car Diner & Deli and a local real estate agent, the fund offers up to $10,000 worth of $50 to $500 grants annually designated to aide teachers as they work to enhance their students’ experience.
“We have heard from many local public school teachers that they do not have the resources to fully educate their students,” Weinstein said. “The Teacher’s Fund was set up to help provide these resources. With the School District’s current financial crisis, there is less money than ever available to our teachers.”
The 2011-2012 Pennsylvania state budget cut approximately $900 million, or more than 10 percent, in funding for instruction, accountability grants, special education, teacher training, student tutoring aid, charter school reimbursements and more for public schools.
Last year, members of the teacher’s fund steering committee provided 20 grants worth $6,790.92. A large portion, $2,942.73, was dedicated to projects rooted in anti-bullying campaigns. This year, two new members, both parents, Leslie Burrell and Vanessa Yingling, who will serve as liaisons for McCloskey and J.S. Jenks, respectively, have joined the committee, bringing the number of members to 10.
Current schools considered by the fund are Eleanor C. Emlen, 6501 Chew Ave.; Anna B. Day, 6324 Crittenden St.; C.W. Henry, 601 Carpenter Lane; Anna L. Lingelbach, 6340 Wayne Ave., and Henry H. Houston, 7300 Rural Lane.
“Besides funding from the state, this gives teachers additional resources,” said four-year committee member Pauline Henry. Three of Henry’s children have attended Houston, including one who still is a student there.
In 2007, Weinstein and his wife hosted Peter Yarrow of the 1960s folk group Peter, Paul and Mary at their Mt. Airy home and raised $10,000 for the fund. Yarrow has dedicated part of his energies to spreading the message of anti-bullying. The fundraiser occurred on the heels of violence at various Philadelphia public schools and originally focused primarily on anti-bullying campaigns.
But as the years passed and teachers expressed their difficulties in acquiring resources, the project’s scope widened.
Weinstein said often teachers need money to pay for field trips to places like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute. The school district no longer funds busses for trips.
This year’s application process begins in October and concludes in mid-November. Past applications included a request for $315 to teach two Houston kindergarten classes about animals, their survival needs and environments through the Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education and a $539 request from Houston music teacher Ezechial Thurman to set up an in-house recording studio with a computer.
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