BULLHEAD CITY — Fiesta Bowl Charities has announced that six local educators have won $5,000 classroom grants through its “Wishes for Teachers” program.

The Mohave Valley Daily News caught up with five of the grant recipients.

Andee Butler, a sixth-grade science teacher at Mohave Accelerated Learning Center, wished for new lab equipment in her classroom. She said the grant will allow her students to perform new experiments and complete more projects.

“I know my students will greatly benefit from a hands-on learning experience,” she said. “This grant will create opportunities for life-long skills and develop interest in STEM-related career fields.” 

MALC middle and high school counselor Ashleigh Miller received a grant for gymnasium upgrades.

“This money will help us to fund the purchase of additional basketball hoops to use in our (physical education) classes, during our basketball practices, and community events where our coaches will work with young athletes,” said Miller, also an assistant coach for the girls basketball team.

Frank Sagasta, of Desert Star Academy, was awarded a grant for the purchase of self-help books in the fields of leadership and public speaking; the money also will go toward the cost of bringing in guest speakers and a field trip. 

“When we open up a book to read, we open up the opportunity to grow and improve our memory and empathy,” said Sagasta, who teaches social studies, leadership and public speaking. “I was absolutely floored when I received the call from the Fiesta Bowl organization. I know this will enhance my scholars’ academic abilities, skills, and talents.”

Mohave High School’s Michele Leyendecker also had books in her grant application. Leyendecker, director of the early childhood education program, said her Fiesta Bowl Wish was to develop a “student-teacher library” that would provide students with access to a variety of materials to enhance learning and promote the development of the Tiny T-birds — the preschoolers who attend the on-campus childcare center.

She said that the center has a two-fold mission: to provide the highest quality of early care and education for children of faculty and staff, and to serve as a laboratory for high school students enrolled in the early childhood education program.

Leyendecker said that growth of the center has meant the majority of its materials already are being used within daily operations.

“Consequently, one of the biggest challenges my students encounter is having a limited opportunity to actually practice the skill of selecting materials and equipment to promote young children’s development,” she said.

Last school year, seven MHS students earned national child development associate credentials before graduation, Leyendecker said.

“By making program enhancements like this possible, I’m confident that this number will continue to increase,” she said.

Kelli Cascoe, a first-grade teacher at Diamondback Elementary School, sought a Qball and some classroom tablets.

“A Qball is a microphone that can be tossed in the classroom,” she explained. “This will help my students by allowing them to be heard and understanding that their voices and ideas are important to me and to their classmates. I try to build a trusting community within my classroom, and this microphone will aid my students (in getting) their thoughts, ideas, and answers heard.”

Cascoe said the tablets will allow students to practice their reading and math fluency, a phonics program, and more.

“I am incredibly grateful for this grant program and am so excited to see the looks on my students’ faces when we get our new materials,” she said. “Due to this grant, I am able to give my students even more experiences and activities to help keep their minds thinking and growing.”

MHS and River Valley High School French teacher Ivan Brown also received a grant.

Created in 2016, Wishes for Teachers invites teachers to fill out applications detailing their school and classroom wishes.

In its first two years, Wishes for Teachers granted more than $1.2 million to Arizona teachers.

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