Operation Round Up Teacher Mini-Grant Awarded to Evans Middle School

May 8, 2017

The Need

"Reading is a passion that must be nurtured in our middle school students," said Amy Drake, sixth grade English teacher at Evans Middle School. "My students love nothing more than to read a novel in class and experience the joy that accompanies it."

Drake is a 2016-2017 Operation Round Up Teacher Mini-Grant recipient. Drake recognized a need for classroom novel sets within her school. The state of Texas provides textbooks for schools, but there are not enough funds to purchase novel sets for individual classes. Evans Middle School has four sixth grade English teachers, but they do not have a single novel set that includes enough copies for them all to teach the same novel at the same time.

The Purchase

With the grant money she received, Drake purchased a classroom set of "Flipped," a novel by Wendelin Van Draanen that showcases two different perspectives.

"I was very excited to receive the grant because our schools have limited funds to buy materials, so the ability to buy a whole classroom set of books for my students was an amazing opportunity," Drake said.

The Impact

Since "Flipped" is told from both main characters’ points of view, students can draw inferences about their motivations and character traits. Drake was able to utilize this novel to incorporate other related informational texts giving her students the opportunity to be exposed to all types of writing. Some of the types of informational texts Drake pulled for additional teaching material were: poetry, articles, short stories, excerpts from other novels and dramas.

Drake said her students became invested in the story and were eager to make connections with it. Connecting texts is a skill used to encourage higher level thinking in students. Along with connecting texts, Drake’s students were able to draw comparisons and contrasts and learn inferencing and comprehension skills.

What Are Teacher Mini-Grants?

The Operation Round Up Board of Directors initiated a program offering small, $500 grants to teachers. Grants were available to K-12 teachers in math or language arts for the 2016-2017 school year. The funds are made available by South Plains Electric members who ask to have their monthly bill rounded up to the next dollar. The extra change, averaging only $6 per year, funds projects like the teacher mini-grants, scholarships and much more.

Operation Round Up was established in 1993 to help communities and individuals needing a hand up, not a hand out. The program’s tagline, "neighbors helping neighbors," is at the heart of why South Plains Electric Cooperative exists.

During the past 24 years, Operation Round Up has helped hundreds of individuals and organizations. Many donations go unpublicized out of respect for the individual recipients. Operation Round Up, under the guidance of a 10-member board, sometimes works quietly to improve members’ lives.

Nine teacher mini-grants were awarded for the 2016-2017 school year. The other recipients were: Amanda Dunn, Lubbock-Cooper ISD; Kara Gibson, Shallowater ISD; Ollie Hart, Abernathy ISD; Morgan Hisey, Lubbock-Cooper ISD; Jennifer Rodriguez, Lubbock-Cooper ISD; Lisa Sanders, Cotton Center ISD; Jana Simmons, Lubbock-Cooper ISD; and Carol Trent, Shallowater ISD.

The Operation Round Up board approved continuing funding the teacher mini-grants because it’s been such a successful program.

How You Can Contribute

If all of our members were participating in Operation Round Up, we would have over $200,000 a year to give back to our local communities. You can sign up for Operation Round Up online or call 806.775.7766. You may also sign up by checking the Operation Round Up box on your monthly bill.