Worcester teachers stock classrooms with support from UMass Chan

Erika Schmitt Boyle, MEd, pictured at Belmont Community School where she teaches sixth grade reading, is one of 23 teachers in Worcester’s North Quadrant who have received Mini Classroom 2022 grants.

This fall, grade six students at Belmont Community School in Worcester will read new books that reflect their own diversity. The books were purchased through class grants from the North Quadrant Support Services Initiative of UMass Chan School of Medicine. Reading teacher Erika Schmitt Boyle, MEd, received four mini-grants to purchase various books, reading and writing supplements, and other school supplies.

“Teachers pay for a lot of school supplies out of our own pockets,” Schmitt Boyle said. “When presented with this opportunity to help my children, I jumped at it.”

Schmitt Boyle is one of 23 teachers from seven North Quadrant schools who received the grants this school year. A total of $38,495 was awarded for 29 proposals with a maximum of $1,500 each.

Grants awarded for grades Pre-K through 12 include scrub funding for Certified Nursing Assistant students at North High; teaching resources for learners of English; a kindergarten field trip to Davis Farmland; graphing calculators for advanced calculus students; an after-school chess club for tweens; and a family cooking club.

UMass Chan created the North Quadrant Support Services Initiative in 2017 with a grant from the Remillard Family Community Service Fund to address socio-economic barriers to academic success.

“I select texts that they will connect with, that reflect who they are as students and who they are as people, which will make them want to read because the best way to become a better reader is to want to read,” Schmitt Boyle said. “I have a lot of struggling readers and graphic novels are accessible to them. These books can increase their interest in reading, which will make them better and hopefully lifelong readers.

The titles she has chosen include biographies of Malala Yousafzai and Ruth Bader Ginsberg; Pride: The Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag; and various picture books and graphic novels.

The grants were funded by students, faculty, and staff who directed donations from their UMass Chan Cares charitable campaign to North Quadrant Support Services. The North Quadrant Support Services initiative for Worcester Public School students was the top choice of donors in the 2021 UMass Chan Cares Charitable Giving Campaign. The 2022 UMass Chan Cares Annual Charitable Giving Campaign will launch on October 31.

“These grants help us be the best teachers we can be,” Schmitt Boyle said. “Thank you for giving me the opportunity to make my class a better place.”

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