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Lakewood teachers get a helping hand

Lakewood Education Foundation charityNational Teacher Day falls on Tuesday, May 8, and communities nationwide will take time to recognize their local educators. Through its annual grant program, honoring teachers and enhancing their resources to teach is something the Lakewood Education Foundation (LEF) does every year.

Since 2003, LEF has awarded grants of up to $500 to dozens of teachers each year for classroom improvement projects that provide a direct benefit to Lakewood students. In just nine years LEF has given classroom grants to 530 Lakewood teachers, totaling $189,148. The funds pay for updated books, art supplies, math kits, audio-visual equipment,  and much more. Last year, 98 teachers received grants totaling $45,070, an increase of 30% over the prior year. The supplemental funding for Lakewood schools plays an especially valuable role during these tough economic times when many school districts are having to cut their classroom supply budgets. 

Third grade teacher Jeanne Zullo of Melbourne Elementary School was able to replace an aging television, “I just can’t believe the Lakewood Education Foundation continues to be so generous in these terrible economic times. They’re generous to teachers. They understand that class sizes have increased and that we have needs for just everyday things. And, they’re so willing and generous to us and I just can’t thank them enough.”

One educator received funding for an “Elmo” document camera/projector that is widely sought as a valuable teaching tool. Several teachers now share the resource and use it to project text books, photographs and art work for whole classes to view. Teachers say it’s ideal for sharing art and cultural information. Another grant paid for equipment needed to help special-needs children, and another funded art materials that are scarce during these times of budget cuts.

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LEF is a non-profit agency run by Lakewood residents whose funds come through donations from local individuals and businesses. An annual fireworks stand, Columbus Day golf tournament, and individual donations raise the funding. The group is operated solely by volunteers and, therefore, has very low overhead costs. After expenses, 100% of donations reach kids in the classroom through grants.

Local teachers submit applications for funding at the beginning of each school year and the money is distributed before the holidays.

Fall fund-raising tournament returns in October

The group’s annual golf tournament will be held on Monday, October 8, 2012 at the Lakewood Country Club Golf Course with a 1:00 p.m. shotgun start. By participating, golfers raise funds to improve schools serving Lakewood students. Grants are only awarded to teachers who can demonstrate that every penny will have a direct educational benefit to their students.

Sponsorship opportunities for the tournament are available from $100 to $5,000. Golfers and donors can choose from many different golf and dining options, signage and program. For details and tournament entry forms for golfers and sponsors should call LEF at 562-496-3559 or email tsrr@msn.com. Anyone interested in donating directly to the Lakewood Education Foundation is encouraged to call 562-496-3559 or log on to www.lakewoodeducation.org.

For teachers

Teachers serving Lakewood can find out more about grants by calling or emailing the Lakewood Education Foundation. Grant applications for 2012 are expected to be available at the LEF website in September. The grant application deadline is typically in the first week of October. See www.lakewoodeducation.org.