Grant money helps RCSD teachers engage students learning from home


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Two Rochester City School District teachers have been awarded grant money to help keep their students engaged while learning at home and in the classroom. One teacher will be using the money to buy lab equipment that will be delivered to students at home, and the other to create student-tailored comfort boxes.

Students and teachers everywhere are still adjusting to hybrid and remote learning.

Cassandra Matalavage and Jennifer Perez just won $2,500 each in grant money to help their students excel. 

“Science is usually their favorite subject because we’re hands on. And it’s been very hard to be hands on without having any equipment. So, this is really why I tried to get the grant, so we can have some more hands on equipment,” said Jennifer Perez, 9th grade special education teacher at Northeast.

The teachers plan to buy science material, like microscopes and vials, that can be delivered to students doing remote learning. Teachers say they’ve found that hands-on engagement and maintaining relationships leads to success.

“We want to remind these kids that there can be so much joy in learning even if its just remote,” said Cassandra Matalavage, a 3rd grade bi-lingual special education teacher at School 28.

40 teachers across New York state have been awarded grant money through the State Farm Teacher Assist program to help update their classrooms for hybrid learning.

Right now, RCSD students pre-K through 6th grade are doing hybrid learning as the district moves to reopen for all students.

“A lot of times students will Facetime me after class just to get help with homework or talk to me, and just maintaining that relationship is so important,” said Matalavage.

“These kids are doing as best as they can right now, and we are doing the best as we can as staff and teachers and we’re just going to continue to help support them as best as we could,” said Perez.

The teachers are also planning to make comfort boxes for students with material to help them de-stress. The boxes are filled with things like magazines, coloring books, and other activities. 

Phase 3 of the RCSD reopen plan starts February 22. This will start hybrid learning for students in grades 7-12. 

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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