Four graduate students in the School of Education received Oppenheimer Family Foundation Grants in 2012 to bring innovative programming into their Chicago Public School classrooms. The students are participants in Chicago Teaching Fellows, a highly selective alternative certification program to train accomplished professionals and recent college graduates to teach in disadvantaged Chicago Public Schools.
That may seem like a large concentration of students in one program to receive such a prestigious honor, but it’s no surprise to the recipients, who credit Professor Samina Hadi-Tabassum with providing them the encouragement and training to capture grants for their classrooms.
Students Ramona Richards, Laura Nunn, Kelly Sloan and Arelys Villeda received Teacher Incentive Grants offered by the Oppenheimer Family Foundation. The annual grants are awarded to underwrite the efforts of CPS teachers who enhance and enrich the educational lives of their students through project-based learning.
It’s the kind of creative project that can have a transformative effect on students. It’s also the kind of project that doesn’t fit into most elementary school budgets. That’s why Hadi-Tabassum says she requires grant writing as part of her practicum classes. “I have a belief that it’s part of a teacher’s job to raise not only the social and human capital of their classrooms, but also economic capital,” Hadi-Tabassum says.
While teacher candidates in education programs across the country are required to write curriculum plans and assignments as part of their training, very few emphasize grant writing. It’s a factor Hadi-Tabassum says differentiates Dominican’s program and its graduates.
“American businesses want a workforce with high degrees of creativity. Yet, close to 90 percent of teachers in America teach directly from the textbook,” she says. “I’m really trying to get our candidates to think outside the box and teach creative ideas in the classroom that go beyond the textbook.”