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Emerald Heights teacher awarded Airborne grant

Leslie Boyer, an art teacher at Emerald Heights Elementary School, was recently awarded a $5,000 Airborne Teacher Trust Fund grant. - Courtesy photo
Leslie Boyer, an art teacher at Emerald Heights Elementary School, was recently awarded a $5,000 Airborne Teacher Trust Fund grant.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Leslie Boyer could not believe it when she heard the news.

Awarded a $5,000 Airborne Teacher Trust Fund grant, the Emerald Heights Elementary School art teacher was shocked and overjoyed that she would be able to continue her program through the 2007-08 school year.

Because of district budget difficulties, the art program was drastically reduced last year.

“I was surprised and really excited,” Boyer said with a laugh. “I was shocked because I asked for a lot because I wanted to ask for enough for (the grant) to be significant enough to (continue) the (art) program.”

The teacher trust fund was developed by the Airborne company to help combat declining funds in art- and music-related programs. The herbal product was created by a former second-grade teacher, Victoria Knight-McDowell, who invented it because she was constantly exposed to germs in her classroom.

Boyer said she didn’t even know what Airborne was, or that they were offering a grant to music and art teachers until she read about it in the CK Reporter.

“I hadn’t even heard of Airborne, that’s how out of the loop I was,” she added with a laugh. “They called me in August, a week before school started.”

With the $5,000 that Boyer was awarded, she will be able to have eight art sessions, each lasting 90 minutes in 20 different classrooms, whereas last year she was only able to conduct seven sessions for 80 minutes because of funding. Boyer added that she will allot $500 of the grant money to be applied toward art supplies for students.

“($500) was for supplies which was great because I didn’t have a budget for supplies last year,” she said. “(The grant) sounds like a lot, but it doesn’t go very far. “

As a winner of the Airborne Teacher Trust Fund, Boyer must also keep a blog for the next year about her classroom, lessons, activities and photos of her classroom.

Boyer has been teaching for more than 36 years. She has taught first through eighth grades, both regular and special education classes. Boyer has spent the last 15 years teaching art at Emerald Heights, an experience she said has been the most far-reaching and rewarding.

“I think the art I’ve done in the last 15 years is most important,” she said. “It reaches the most students.”

Beginning when the school opened, the art program at Emerald Heights was designed to integrate visual art into all other curriculum.

“Classroom teachers have enthusiastically embraced the program and have collaborated closely with me from the beginning,” Boyer wrote in her blog. “We feel strongly that the ability to engage all students through art has enhanced instruction in all other subjects and boosted achievement in reading, writing and math.”

In addition to the Airborne Teacher Trust Fund grant, Boyer also was awarded with the Emerald Heights Parent Teacher Association’s “Putting Children First” award worth $100. This money also will be applied to the art program.

“How great it is this teacher is using the money (from Airborne profits) to give back to the students,” Boyer said.

To view Boyer’s blog, visit www.airbornetrust.com/winners-blogview.aspx.

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