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Optimist Club of Madison presented grants to several Madison teachers. Attending the presentation were Lynda Johnson, from left, Madison Optimist Club incoming president; Elizabeth Bero, Horizon; Jaime Mathison, Heritage; Denise Swaine, James Clemens; Madison City Schools Superintendent Robert V. Parker; Freddie Griffin, Discovery; Donna Geise, Ashley Steinert, Meleighsa McLaughlin and June Lawniczak, James Clemens; and Scott Piro, former Optimist president. CONTRIBUTED

Optimist Club grants defray teachers’ classroom expenses

MADISON – Optimist Club of Madison is helping teachers deal with a frustrating fact — paying for classroom supplies by reaching into their own pockets.

“So many teachers spend above and beyond what’s expected of them in providing the best educational environment for our children. Optimist Club is helping,” Optimist Publicist Vic van Leeuwen said.

Optimist members presented grant checks to teachers at a recent Madison Board of Education meeting. “It’s always a pleasure funding extras for educators that would otherwise not be funded,” van Leeuwen said.

At Heritage Elementary School, the Campus Scouts Recycling Club will provide bins for plastic bottles and dedicated containers for paper recycling in the classroom. Jaime Mathison is teacher sponsor.

The Student 2 Student group at James Clemens High School helps new students to transition to a new campus. James Clemens will use its grant to offset expense for a social in April during Month of the Military Child. Meleighsa McLaughlin and June Lawniczak sponsor S2S.

The National English Honors Society at James Clemens donates money to buy novels for use in English classes. “Our students learn more than plot from novel reading,” English teacher Donna Geise said.

Sponsor Ashley Steinert realized that some members of Health Occupations Students of America or HOSA at James Clemens cannot afford to attend the Alabama State Leadership Conference in February in Montgomery. The Optimist grant will help to pay travel expenses for a student to compete at the conference.

Sponsor Kara Lingerfelt said James Clemens PTSA wants to establish a scholarship for a senior who has exhibited leadership skills and dedicated community service. Encouraging students in fine arts pursuits is another goal.

At Horizon Elementary School, students run the school store and use profits for scholarships for needy students to attend field trips. For example, a trip to McDowell Environmental Center costs $160/child. Sponsor and Gifted Specialist Beth Bero said, “A student receiving funds to attend a field trip will definitely feel as if they have a friend.”

Library Media Specialist Tina McMunn requested a grant for more eBooks and audiobooks for students at Liberty Middle School. “Our community will benefit in that we are encouraging individual growth by exposing students to a variety of diverse reads,” McMunn said.

The GreenPower Team at Discovery Middle School will use the Optimists’ donation to advance STEM study. Specifically, GreenPower will design and build a single-seat, electric-powered race car, sponsor Freddie Griffin said.

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