• Bob Vlach, Woodford Sun Staff

Northside, WCHS teachers awarded $2,000 grant


AMY GORDON, a first-grade teacher at Northside Elementary School, accepted a $2,000 grant from Chip Hill, of Voya Financial. Gordon and Bob Greene, a teacher at Woodford County High School, were awarded the Voya Unsung Heroes Grant for innovative teaching. (Photo by Bob Vlach)

Two teachers have been awarded a $2,000 grant to support a program that partners Northside Elementary School first-graders with students at Woodford County High School. Amy Gordon and Bob Greene are among 100 winners of Voya Unsung Heroes grant awards in the United States this year. Gordon said her first-graders and students in Greene's manufacturing class will soon begin working together to design and then build 12 "Little Free Libraries" to promote reading in neighborhoods across Woodford County. "You've got two of our schools working together ... to benefit the community," said district Chief Academic Officer Jimmy Brehm. The Little Library initiative will also support a district-wide Woodford Reads program, which puts books into the hands of students to promote reading at home, said Gordon. Little Libraries are free book exchanges located in birdhouse-like structures. "Hopefully," Gordon told her students, "you'll be able to go and show your parents - take a book out, put a book in." "And we're hoping to work with the middle school and high school librarians to get some age-appropriate books for older kids, too," added Northside curriculum coach Shelby Ison. She said Spanish-language versions of books will also be available to reach even more families in Woodford County. "You can't get enough books in the hands of your community - parents, kids, everybody," said Brehm. He said that creates a culture and atmosphere of a community that values literacy. Selected from a group of more than 1,200 applicants, Gordon and Greene are now finalists for one of three top prizes: an additional $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 grant from Voya Financial, according to a company press release. Through its Voya Unsung Heroes program, Voya Financial awards grants to educators for their innovative teaching methods, creative educational projects and ability to positively influence their students, the press release stated. This innovative teaching partnership involving students from Northside and WCHS began last school year, with designing and then building racecars, birdhouse and other projects. "When you're creating something," said Northside Principal Ryan Asher, "you're really investing in it. And so the kids ... were so invested in what they were" doing - regardless of what they were building. "It's a tangible process that these kids can actually see," added Chip Hill, a financial advisor with Voya.

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