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Elkhart Education Foundation gifts teachers new collaborative workspace

The Elkhart Education Foundation is inspiring teachers to innovate with a new collaborative workspace.

Whiteboards on desks, exercise balls, and checks to make it all happen are what you’ll find in this newly converted room.

“Isn’t this awesome?” asked the Elkhart Community Schools Deputy Superintendent, Dr. Dawn McGrath.

The Elkhart Education Foundation is encouraging teachers at Elkhart Community Schools to innovate by transforming a seldom-used storage area into a state-of-the-art space where they can collaborate.

“What makes this so special is it is an opportunity for us to actually live the way we want to teach,” said Dr. McGrath.

“A setting like this would be phenomenal, you know loosen kids up from the traditional approach, being confined to a desk for 45 minutes,” said Elkhart Memorial High School English Teacher, Jeff Hemmerlein.

Starting this year, some students in the Elkhart Community Schools district will be able to sit on yoga balls and write on their desks, in the hopes of taking the report card from a C to an A.

The Indiana Department of Education dropped the corporation’s school accountability grade from a ‘B’ to a ‘C’ this past school year.

So, they’re rewarding teachers who think outside of the box, like Hemmerlein.

"What we wanted to look at doing was bring in Mike Mullin, who’s the author of the Ashfall series to bridge the gap between what is academic writing and what is possible in the real world,” he said.

That idea is one of 13 that earned foundation grants Wednesday.

“Our teachers are wonderful, but they have to take a lot of money out of their own pockets,” said Ashely Molyneaux, the Executive Director for the Elkhart Education Foundation.

They’re spending a little on teachers now, with the hopes of high returns for their students later.

“When you come down here and you sit among these stations and can write on almost anything with the wipe off, it makes you feel creative and inspired and collaborative,” said Dr. McGrath.

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