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Credit Union Rewards Inventive Windward Schoolteachers

When it comes to teacher needs, Hawaii State Federal Credit Union is willing to give credit (actually hard cash) where it is due, and 2012 was no exception.

The credit union recently awarded $500 each to dozens of public school-teachers statewide who submitted compelling essays on why and how they would use an extra $500.

Among the 39 winners statewide are five Wind-ward Oahu teachers from classrooms at Ahuimanu, Ben Parker and Blanche Pope Elementary; and Kailua High and Kailua Intermediate schools.

“We are beyond grateful for your generous monetary grant,” wrote one happy principal, “as it will tremendously help us purchase and /or defray costs for school-grade programs and activities.”

Ahuimanu kindergarten teacher Elyse Kozuma mentioned that her school’s budget only covers classroom supplies this year, with none left over for new books. “Although reading aloud is a part of our weekly homework packet,” Kozuma wrote, “we sometimes have parents who tell us that they cannot afford books to read at home.”

She intends to establish a small classroom library with books that her students can take home and read to their families.

Like Kozuma, Blanche Pope third-grade teacher Brynn Leake plans to build a classroom library of early chapter books appropriate for her students’ reading level. She also has a farm science lesson in mind, and the grant will provide a bus ride, seeds, planters and more.

“I don’t feel comfortable soliciting families to purchase material for their class activites,” Leake explained, “knowing that many are struggling financially.”

The Investing in Education grant program (previously called Helping Hand) began in 2009, and HSFCU has given just under $100,000 to the cause so far, boosting the grant amounts along the way.

To be eligible, winners must be HSFCU members as well as DOE classroom teachers.