Announcing our 2020-21 Celia B. Godsil Grants in Place Fellows!

January 4, 2021 |

We are pleased to announce our 2020-2021 Celia B. Godsil Grants in Place Fellow Recipients. The Fellows will work with their respective students on place-based action research projects. Each Celia B. Godsil Grants in Place Fellow receives a grant which will support the place-based project, a professional development presentation, and an honorarium for the educator. The Grants in Place program is funded through the generous support from Celia and Mark Godsil in honor of Celia's career as a public school teacher and their belief in the importance of classroom teachers to rural communities. Learn more about the program here!

Please welcome these nine outstanding educators!

California: Jan Mathews
Sycamore Middle School, Gridley, CA
"Outdoor Reimagining"

This place-based project will involve students and community members working together to create a desirable and usable gathering space on campus. Students will create the plans, organize the labor, and complete the tasks needed to design and build this community area. Student-driven projects offer team-building opportunities and motivate students to make connections with each other and with community members. By empowering students, I will foster their leadership skills and reinforce their confidence. Students will learn how to create positive change in their world by starting right here at their school.

Jan is a middle school science teacher in rural California. This is her eighteenth year of teaching. One of her favorite things to do when she is not bird-watching or being outdoors is to bring humor and a sense of community into her classroom. She has been a California State University, Chico partner and mentor teacher for much of her career and finds working with credential candidates rewarding and extremely beneficial to her own reflective practices. Jan has never received a grant like this before and is looking forward to creating a comfortable and safe space for her student community on her campus.

Alabama: Allie Cunningham
University Charter School, Livingston, AL
"Paint It Out: Addressing the ACEs Through Art"

Alexandria “Allie” Cunningham is a kindergarten teacher at the University Charter School in Livingston, AL. Born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and raised in Northport, Alabama, Allie relocated to Livingston, AL to pursue a degree in education at the University of West Alabama in 2010. Allie received a bachelor’s degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in 2015 and received her master’s degree in Early Childhood and Elementary Education in May of 2018. Allie is also a 2020 grant recipient of the Alabama Humanities Foundation, Jenice Riley Memorial Scholarship. Allie is an Alzheimer's advocate and has a passion for writing. That passion has led Allie to establish her own children's book publishing company, Inspiring Honey Publishing LLC, with an imprint called Funky Fresh Nerds, where she writes young adult novellas. Allie's place-based project is called Paint It Out: Addressing the ACEs Through Art, where her students will use art mediums as a means to express their social-emotional development.

Idaho: Shawn Schumacher
Blaine County School District, Hailey, ID
"Getting our Greens On"

My name is Shawn Schumacher. I am a K-5th grade teacher in Hailey, Idaho. My passions are anything in the outdoors especially gardening, mountain biking, wildflower identification, skiing, and nature journaling. My husband Ben, son Sage, and I are learning to garden at over 5,000 feet and we love sharing our passion with others. This year I will be working with the special needs students at my school to create high altitude garden boxes that we can use to observe plant growth and do art lessons based on our observations.

New Hampshire: Alayna Signorello
Warren Village School, Warren, NH
"Warren Village School Greenhouse"

My name is Alayna and I am a 3rd teacher at Warren Village School in Warren, NH. Before becoming an elementary teacher, I taught in an outdoor Montessori Toddler program in southern New Hampshire. I then completed my MEd through the University of New Hampshire's Teacher Residency for Rural Education program. I've been teaching at Warren Village School for 2 years. This year, we are excited to start repairing and refreshing the school greenhouse that hasn't been in use. Our hope is that the greenhouse will be a platform for multi-grade level exploration and learning about plants and food systems. We look forward to growing produce that we can share with our school and community.

North Dakota: Sara Forness
Central Cass School District 17, Casselton, ND
"Reservoir Restoration"

I am a graduate of NDSU, Fargo, North Dakota, and have been in science education for 28 years as a high school and college educator and, more recently, our district's k-12 STEM Coordinator. My previous careers included raptor biologist with the BLM and Peregrine Fund, and state park naturalist for the state of Minnesota. I have a MS in Science Education and certification in several PLTW (Project Lead the Way) engineering courses. The most meaningful award with which I have been honored was the NEEF and EPA Environmental Educator of the Year award, for contributions made to citizen science. I enjoy coaching Envirothon and FIRST Robotics and developing STEM activities for all grade levels at my school, Central Cass Public in Casselton, North Dakota. I am passionate about water quality and water resources and am looking forward to helping these students and our community make their local reservoir a viable fishery.

Indiana: Chrissy Krieg
Jay County Jr-Sr High School, Portland, Indiana
"Love Your Neighbor"

Chrissy Krieg is an English teacher and National Honor Society adviser at Jay County Jr.-Sr. High School in Portland, Indiana. She holds an M.A. in English and a B.S. in Secondary Education and is passionate about both education and service. She's spent the last 14 years teaching and living in her rural community. Beyond the classroom, she spends a great deal of time finding families for and working with exchange students, tutoring migrant students, and completing service projects with National Honor Society.

For this project, I'd like to help welcome our migrant population to our community and to our school. To start, I'd like to offer after school opportunities for our migrant students. I think if we can help make our students feel more comfortable here, then their families will follow suit. I'd like to offer after school peer tutoring. I want my students to help with with homework, with projects, with English. Beyond that, I'd like to offer after school social opportunities where my students host and where our migrant students can come and enjoy themselves--free of charge. I want there to be music and food and conversation--everything an average teenager would appreciate. I also want to host cultural evenings where my students honor their own heritages, where there would be opportunities for them to share their heritage through education, music, and food. Finally, I envision my migrant students taking the lead. I envision them taking part in cultural evenings where they teach us about their countries, their cultures.

Missouri Ozarks: Bridget Larsen
Glenwood, West Plains, Missouri
"Poverty and Wealth"

My name is Bridget Larsen, and I am a second year middle school math teacher at a rural school in South Central Missouri. I enjoy everything math, and I have a passion for helping students learn and grow. In my spare time, I enjoy the outdoors and crafting, as well as spending time with my family. My three year old son keeps me on my toes, and we are always on a new adventure.

Students will explore the differences in poverty and wealth across different place-based levels (from local to global). Throughout this project, students will work toward creating a sculpture representation of poverty and wealth, as well as a proposal presentation for community outreach programs in an effort to make a positive impact on the locally impoverished population. A series of engaging activities will allow students to understand their personal connections to poverty, the difficulties of impoverished families, the opportunities and efforts available for helping, and much more.

Wisconsin: Adam Gould
Severson Learning Center, Cambridge, WI
"Restoring Native Flora to Improve Water Quality"

We want to create a living lab to showcase the alternatives to a traditional lawn for the members of our community, all of whom live in either the Lake Ripley or Koshkonong Creek watershed, whether they realize it or not! Our first goal is to restore an area of land at the Severson Learning Center (SLC) into a native prairie. This will serve as a model to help educate the public about the importance of alternatives to a traditional lawn, especially along waterways or areas where water flows to street gutters. We would like to explain the possibilities and opportunities to add natural flora to their property. Our second goal is to add another living lab to the SLC that can be used by school children when they come on field trips.

Illinois: Ann Hulsizer
United West Elementary, Monmouth, IL
"Digging Deep"

Living in an agricultural community, our project seeks to increase awareness of sustainable farming methods and improve soil and nutrient management. All soils are different and they are not created equally. Dig down deep into any soil, and you can explore its properties and begin to see how each type provides different growing conditions. Understanding the properties of soil and identifying the right soil conditions for growing plants can help maximize agriculture production, thus improving the global supply chain. This project will also give students an opportunity to explore the importance of protecting water quality from agricultural runoff. According to the EPA, runoff from farms is the leading source of impairments to surveyed rivers and lakes. We have a responsibility to ourselves and future generations to find methods of producing food that will minimize damage to our farm and water resources. When nitrogen and phosphorus are not fully utilized by the growing plants, they can be lost from the farm fields and contribute to polluting water downstream. We want to help solve this problem by educating students and our community on the right amount needed and understanding how excessive application can negatively affect the environment. Students will see how traditional farm knowledge can be enriched with methods to support productive food systems with sound sustainable soil and nutrient management.

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