FCSF recognizes amazing grant projects within the Flint Schools every year, but with the launch of our new website comes the opportunity to highlight for the community teachers that have had especially successful past projects. Each month we will select a teacher, staff member, or school to feature on our website and social media. For our first feature we have selected Debra Rinoldo-Hopkins..
Mrs. Rinoldo-Hopkins has been teaching for the Flint Community School District for 35 years, and currently teaches fifth grade at Durant Tuuri Mott Elementary School. She has won numerous classroom and all school grants over the years, and has been honored with the Annette Marcinkowski Award for best written grant several times. Mrs. Rinoldo-Hopkins told us that she always tailors her grant ideas and applications to the needs of her class each year, noting that almost never are two classes exactly the same. She has pursued projects that encourage small group work, and others that engage the entire class at once. She has also pursued grants for field trips, which she says are her favorite, including trips to meet the Mayor, County Sheriff, small business owners, and CRIM race organizers. Her goal for these trips is to show her students how they can benefit from the many opportunities our city has to offer.
For teachers pursuing grants for the first time, Mrs. Rinoldo-Hopkins recommends focusing on the needs of each class, starting your application draft early, and collaborating with colleagues to offer or accept help when you need it.
Our July Feature is Mrs. Cassandria Harris. Mrs. Harris is a school counselor at Accelerated Learning Academy and she has worked for Flint Community Schools for over 20 years. Mrs. Harris has four consecutive grants from the Flint Classroom Support Fund. Mrs. Harris’s grants have helped her facilitate two school-wide health fairs and a flu shot clinic. The health fairs provided promotional wellness bags to participants and included representatives and health promotion materials from community health agencies. The events also featured open group fitness class demonstrations, including hustle groups and Zumba. Through a partnership with Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, the health fairs also provided hearing, HIV, and lead testing for participants. During the Covid-19 Pandemic, Mrs.Harris and her health promotion fairs did not stop, instead providing a Flu Shot Clinic to encourage community members to protect themselves and ease further stress on our local health system. This event was made possible through a partnership with Lifetime Urgent Care, and focused on attracting people who do not normally get a flu shot. Mrs. Harris and her students also handed out school supplies and water to promote the event and encourage attendance.
Mrs. Harris’s students are highly involved in her events and gain valuable skills while advertising, organizing, and setting up the events. Students are also encouraged to engage the community and can invite family and friends to these events. Community service is very important to Mrs.Harris and she says the best part of her grant projects is giving back to the community.
To other teachers pursuing grants, Mrs. Harris says you should follow your passion, and work on creating a project that will be relevant, memorable, and engaging to students, while teaching them the importance of serving others.