Local group hands out $20,000 to Flint teachers as 30-year tradition continues in pandemic

By Tom Travis

Flint teachers were awarded $20,000, in gifts of $100 each,  by the Flint Classroom Support Fund (FCSF) on Thursday. The contributions are given to each of the 200 Flint Community School (FCS) teachers from a COVID Rescue Grant to use towards their classroom needs. The annual event was hosted by the Flint Institute of Arts (FIA).

In addition to the $100 grants, teachers also received a Family Membership from the Flint Institute of Arts. Members of the FCSF, FCS Assistant Superintendent Kevelin Jones, FIA Executive Director John Henry, Mayor Sheldon Neeley, and of course, Santa were on hand for the distribution.

Members of the Flint Classroom Support Fund and the FIA gather with Santa for a group photo after the checks were distributed. (Photo by Tom Travis)

This initiative is a part of a larger teacher and school grant program funded each year by the FCSF. The grants are made possible through donors including The Bishop Trust which provided a $13,600 grant towards this recent effort, along with Sovita Credit Union, Eve Insurance, Goyette Mechanical, the Flint Institute of Arts, and many other supporters.

The FCSF has been raising funds to support the work being done by teachers in the Flint Community Schools for more than  30 years. During this time, the FCSF has provided more than $400,000 in grants and assisted teachers with projects and initiatives that are not funded through traditional school funding, according to a press release from the FIA.

Flint resident JD Winegarden and president of the Flint Classroom Support Fund speaks to media in front of the FIA holding a milk crate filled with packets for each school containing $100 for each teacher. (Photo by Tom Travis)

“We’re giving each teacher $100 to enhance the children’s education in the classroom The principals are coming up here in their cars and they’re getting a packet and they will pass them out to the teachers. Included is a FIA membership for each teacher and their family for a year. We are so pleased and proud to be able to do something for them,” said JD Winegarden, president of the Flint Classroom Support Fund.

For additional information on the Flint Classroom Support Fund and how you can help, email flintflash@me.com.

More information on Thursday’s event is available from JD Winegarden, president of the Flint Classroom Support Fund at 810.235.8555 or flintflash@me.com.

Flint City Councilperson, Allan Griggs (8th Ward) donned his Santa outfit and played the part for Thursday’s check distribution. (Photo by Tom Travis)

FIA hosts FCSF meetings throughout the year

John Henry, executive director of the FIA,  told EVM, “We host the FCSF group when they have meetings here throughout the year. For years we have extended memberships to teachers. We do so much with the schools each year.

“We think it’s a good opportunity for the teachers to see what we’re doing each year so that they can weave it into their curriculum. It’s worked very very well. The teachers aren’t invited here just so they can get put a curriculum together it’s also for them and the good work that they do,” Henry said.

FIA is open during the pandemic

“The FIA is one of the safest places in the county because we’re a no touch facility,”  Henry noted. “You don’t even have to touch the doors to get in and out of the building. And of course we don’t let anyone touch the artwork and the galleries are large enough that social distancing is just not an issue.”

He added that staff regularly wipe down surfaces and signs at the entrance notify visitors that masks are required and temperature readings are required to enter.

FIA Executive Director John Henry. (Photo from FIA website)

“Visitor numbers are down a little bit. Our school’s not operating yet. The classrooms are little too close. So we’re missing that traffic and energy. And frankly people just aren’t going out that much. We’re probably at 40 to 50 percent [visitor rate].

“It’s still a ‘go-to’ place and we get quite a few people every day and we think with the holidays we’ll get more. It’s one of the safest places to go and spend a couple of hours,” Henry added.

EVM Managing Editor Tom Travis can be reached at tomntravis@gmail.com.

Author: Tom Travis

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